Dying in Denver
The early 1990s saw Quentin Tarantino shoot to fame with his own quirky, snappy style of movie making and unsurprisingly it saw other directors both emulating him and trying to do things a little bit different. It brings me to the memorable but daftly titled "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" because here we have a routine storyline made more interesting by the characters who are extreme cinematic cliches. It makes what is not that original of a story entertaining because of darkly funny often quirky characters which give an impressive collection of actors opportunity to really get into their roles rather than just doing the norm.
Jimmy the Saint (Andy Garcia - When a Man Loves a Woman) runs "Afterlife Advice", a company which records the dying giving advice on various subjects so their loved ones can watch the videos in times of needs. The trouble is that business if not good and The Man With a Plan (Christopher Walken - True Romance) is getting ready to call in the loan unless Jimmy does him one favour. Along with a team of characters Jimmy sets about doing the favour but things go wrong and it means the gang better watch out for Mister Shhh (Steve Buscemi) who is hired by The Man With a Plan to silence them.
Just reading that synopsis you should get the gist of the quirkiness of "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" with character names such as Mister Shhh and The Man With the Plan and that is without mentioning Critical Bill. But you should also get the gist that at its heart it is also a run of the mill storyline with a group of slightly dodgy men having to deal with the threat of a hit man when they bodge a job for the crime boss. There is nothing special about the underlying story as things quickly build from Jimmy the Saint putting his crew together, the failed job and then dealing with the repercussions of it.
But it is the fact that everything about "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" is quirky and darkly funny which makes it entertaining. From meeting Jimmy at his business where they record advice from the dying through to the ending as Jimmy tries to organize things following the botched job. And in between we get a whole lot of quirky, quirky characters such as Christopher Walken's amusing mob boss The Man With a Plan, as he is wheel chair bound and quite vulgar. And then there is quirky scenes such as when we meet Critical Bill who works in a funeral parlour and uses the dead bodies as punch bags to control his anger issues. Technically it shouldn't work but yet the simple strangeness of it all makes "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" a movie you keep on watching despite pretty much guessing where it will all go when we get to meet the quirkiest of characters Mister Shhh.
So that very much means the fun of "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" is very much built on these quirky characters and it has an impressive cast. Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi, Treat Williams and Christopher Lloyd all deliver full on performances in their extreme characters especially Williams who is so over the top that you wonder whether you are watching the same Williams who in more recent years has played fatherly characters. But at the centre of all this is Andy Garcia as Jimmy the Saint and this has to be one of Garcia's greatest movies. You can see elements of characters he has played before in Jimmy the Saint there is both a bit of Vincent from "The Godfather: Part III" and George Stone from "The Untouchables" about him but it makes Jimmy an interesting and entertaining character which Garcia gives his all to.
What this all boils down to is that "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" does border on the strange because it takes a run of the mill story and fills it with quirky characters who are extreme cliches. It means that you either enjoy what almost borders on being daft or hate it for being too quirky.