Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead

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Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gary Fleder
Produced by Cary Woods
Written by Scott Rosenberg
Starring Andy García
Christopher Lloyd
William Forsythe
Bill Nunn
Treat Williams
Jack Warden
Steve Buscemi
Fairuza Balk
Gabrielle Anwar
Christopher Walken
Michael Nicolosi
Bill Cobbs
Marshall Bell
Glenn Plummer
Music by Michael Convertino
Cinematography Elliot Davis
Edited by Richard Marks
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • December 1, 1995 (1995-12-01)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $529,677

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead is a 1995 American neo-noir crime film directed by Gary Fleder from a screenplay written by Scott Rosenberg. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Andy García, Christopher Lloyd, Treat Williams, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Fairuza Balk, and Gabrielle Anwar.

The film's title comes from a Warren Zevon song of the same name, recorded on his 1991 album Mr. Bad Example, which he allowed under the condition that the song be played during the end credits. The lead character's name, "Jimmy the Saint," comes from the Bruce Springsteen song "Lost in the Flood" from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. It is referred to by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as one of several of Pulp Fiction's clones.[1] The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.[2]


Jimmy "The Saint" Tosnia is an ex-gangster living in Denver. Jimmy left the criminal world, to "go straight" with his "Afterlife Advice" business, where dying people videotape messages for their loved ones. His business isn't doing well and his former boss, a local crime lord known as "The Man With The Plan", has bought up his debt in order to command a favor.

The Man With The Plan was left a quadriplegic from an attempt on his life. With his wife deceased, the only person he cares about is his son, Bernard. Bernard separated from his longtime girlfriend, Meg, and preys on children to molest them. Meg's current boyfriend, Bruce, will be arriving in Denver and The Man With The Plan wants Jimmy to convince Bruce to break up with her, so Bernard can resume their relationship. Jimmy recruits several of his friends to help with the scheme including Easy Win, Pieces, Big Bear Franchise and the rage prone "Critical Bill." The plan is to have Pieces and Critical Bill pose as police officers and intercept Bruce and beat him, until he agrees to break up with Meg. Things go wrong when Bruce grows suspicious of the two men's identities and mocks them, so Critical Bill stabs Bruce in the throat. The commotion wakes up Meg, who had been sleeping in the back of Bruce's van. Meg's appearance startles Pieces, who accidentally shoots her dead.

The Man With The Plan is furious at the outcome of their botched mission. He informs Jimmy that he will allow him to live, as long as he leaves Denver. His crew have been sentenced to "buckwheats", assassinated in a gruesome and painful manner.

The group comes to terms with their impending deaths as they are stalked by a hit man, Mr. Shhh. Pieces accepts his fate, to which Mr. Shhh provides a quick death. Easy Wind goes into hiding with a gang lord named Baby Sinister, but is given up after Mr. Shhh infiltrates and kills most of Sinister's entourage. Because Franchise has a family to raise, Jimmy pleads with The Man With The Plan to spare his life. The Man With The Plan agrees to do so, but betrays Jimmy, as Franchise is killed while attempting to flee with his family. The betrayal makes Jimmy vengeful of The Man With The Plan; in turn, Jimmy is also sentenced to buckwheats.

Mr. Shhh finally locates Critical Bill holed up in his apartment, but is ambushed by Bill, and the two end up killing each other. In the wake of Mr. Shhh's death, the contract falls to a trio of Mexican brothers, who attempt to track down Jimmy. In his final hours, Jimmy says goodbye to Dagney, a woman he had fallen in love with. Knowing that he will most likely be killed, Jimmy murders Bernard for all the misery he indirectly brought upon the group. He also impregnates Lucinda, a prostitute, in order to fulfill her wish of becoming a mother. As he narrates an Afterlife Advice video, Jimmy tells his unborn child to always have faith, listen to their mother and to make a list of ten things important to them and to satisfy most, if not all of them, to create their own perfect life. The trio of killers catch up to Jimmy and he takes his death with grace. With Jimmy taking away the last thing precious to him, The Man With The Plan would never again spill blood. Jimmy and his friends have "boat drinks" in the afterlife.



The film was met with negative reviews from critics, as it holds a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes from a sample of 27 reviews. Produced on a budget of $8 million, the film only made about $530,000 upon its limited release


  1. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "The World According to Harvey and Bob (Smoke, The Glass Shield)", Chicago Reader, June 16, 1995.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead". Retrieved 2009-09-07. 

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