Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead

A clumsily titled (after the Warren Zevon song, and Zevon was reportedly none too thrilled about it) but funny and engaging whatsit that didn’t really deserve all the comparisons to Quentin Tarantino. Andy Garcia is Jimmy the Saint, who used to be in the mob but now runs a service that allows the dying to videotape advice to their survivors. Jimmy’s former boss, The Man With The Plan (Christopher Walken in a wheelchair), asks Jimmy to do one last job. Jimmy recruits former partners Bill Nunn, William Forsythe, Treat Williams, and Christopher Lloyd to perform the duty, which goes tragically awry. Soon, Jimmy must avoid not only hit-man Steve Buscemi but also ardent ragamuffin Fairuza Balk (who wants to have his baby) and his own growing love for Gabrielle Anwar. What could have been quirky plot overload turns out to be one of the slickest yet most deeply felt movies in some time, with highly quotable dialogue (“Give it a name”) by Scott Rosenberg. The standouts in the wonderfully eclectic cast are Williams, Balk, and especially Garcia, who gives the movie heart and soul. A home run for first-time director Gary Fleder, whose work since (Kiss the Girls, Runaway Jury, Don’t Say a Word, Impostor) has been consistently lame.

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