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Film / Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead

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Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead is a 1995 crime film directed by Gary Fleder and starring (among others) Andy García, Christopher Lloyd and Christopher Walken. The title was inspired by a song by Warren Zevon from his album Mr. Bad Example.

Andy Garcia plays a former mob man who tries to turn straight by starting his own business, which produces taped messages for the terminally ill and dying. His business goes into debt, which later brings him into having to do one last favor for his former boss: scare off his son's ex's current boyfriend. A loose team of former acquaintances is then assembled to do the job, but it turns out their target is smarter than they think.


The film contains examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: Notably all 5 job men, Jimmy included.
  • Badass Boast: "I am Godzilla, you are Japan!"
  • Bittersweet Ending: All 5 job men die, but The Man With The Plan is alone now his son is dead, and is said to have never spilled any blood again. Lucinda is now pregnant with Jimmy's child, and leaving the prostitution game. Dagney seems to have moved on, and for some reason the 5 job men are seen hanging out together in the afterlife on a fishing trip.
  • Carnival of Killers: Jimmy The Saint (Andy Garcia), Franchise (William Forsythe), Critical Bill (Treat Williams), Pieces (Christopher Lloyd), and Easy Wind (Bill Nunn).
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Buckwheats, which is killing someone slowly and painfully. Specifically, by literally popping a cap in their asses. This is done to Easy Wind and Franchise.
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  • Cramming the Coffin: A mafia body is arranged to disappear this way. At the funeral we see the pallbearers stumble in surprise when they first pick up the coffin.
  • Deadly Euphemism: It's emphasised to Jimmy that the job he's been hired to do is just "an action", and not "a piece of work". From context it's pretty obvious that the former refers to intimidation and beating, the latter for a hit.
  • The Don: "The Man With The Plan".
  • Face Death with Dignity: Pieces. All he does when Mr. Shush comes for him is nod and say, "Do it quickly." Which Shush does.
  • A Father to His Men: It's Personal for both The Man and Jimmy; the former is because of the Relative Button, but Jimmy's only motivation is protecting his crew.
  • From Bad to Worse: The plan to scare off Meg's boyfriend results in him getting killed, along with Meg herself when her unexpected appearance in the van spooks Pieces into accidentally shooting her.
  • I Lied: The Man With The Plan has Franchise killed anyway after promising Jimmy he'd allow him to get out of town with his wife and kids. He explains that as a criminal, his word doesn't mean shit.
  • If I Can't Have You...: A proxy version. Bernard's father wants to have the fiancé of his son's childhood crush run out of town because he thinks seeing her with another guy will be bad for Bernard's mental health.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Two main characters pose as police officers to stop their mark. Given that one of the criminals had a short fuse, it went From Bad to Worse very fast for everybody involved, putting into motion the main plot of the movie.
  • Karma Houdini: The Man With The Plan. He's able to have every job man killed, but as Jimmy explains in his afterlife video, he'll now be alone (Jimmy having just killed his son Bernard) and still crippled.
  • Malt Shop: The film is narrated by an old-timer in a malt shop, which is for some reason a bit of a Bad-Guy Bar.
  • Mutual Kill: Bill and Mr. Shush shooting each other.
  • Professional Killer: Mr Shush is the Consummate Professional type. A gang of three brothers are sent to kill Jimmy after Billy takes out Shush.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Bernard. Growing up with The Don for a father and being able to get away with anything didn't help matters, but given his attempted snatching of a schoolgirl from a school playground during recess (the catalyst of the The Man's mission to Jimmy) Bernard definitely exhibits underlying psychological problems as well.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Jimmy's crew is described as such practically word-for-word after they royally screw up the plan.
  • Spot the Thread: Meg's boyfriend sees right through Pieces and Bill's disguises as cops, ultimately leading to the plot's derailment.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Bernard.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: "Mr. Shush".
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Meg's boyfriend. After refusing to cooperate with Pieces and Bill when stating they aren't real cops, Bill pulls him out of the van, and the guy proceeds to verbally assault Bill to the point where he holds a knife to his throat. When Pieces talks him down, the boyfriend badmouths Bill yet again, resulting in his getting stabbed multiple times in the throat.
    • Critical Bill when he decided to gloat to Mr. Shush after blasting him with a shotgun. Shush takes the opportunity to shoot him before dying himself.
  • Tropical Epilogue: Referenced. The protagonists will often say "Boat drinks," to remind each other of their ultimate dream: retiring to some tropical paradise to sip cocktails on a yacht. In the end, we see all of the main characters doing exactly that, except they're all dead.
  • Vox Pops: Jimmy's company's "Afterlife Advice" videos are scattered through the film.


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