(On Cable TV, September 2014) The problem with low-budget comedies is that when they’re not particularly well-handled, they can become ridiculous in ways that take away from their intent. Venus & Vegas is definitely a low-budget film. Alas, this low-budget translates not in cheap locations (the Vegas footage is actually impressive) as much as in ill-conceived sequences, bad staging, actors mugging for the camera without a strong director to rein them in, and a script that doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. Donald Faison isn’t too bad as the nominal leader of a trio of small-time robbers dealing with romantic complications, but the rest of the actors are either a bit too enthusiastic or not being told which register they should aim for: As a result, Venus & Vegas often challenges basic suspension of disbelief with over-acting, unconvincing blocking and sitcom-level writing. It doesn’t help that the female characters are plot devices, that the direction is bland and that the ending is rushed. Fortunately, it does remain a comedy with a sympathetic atmosphere throughout: it’s hard to be mad at a film so eager to please. Still, a pleasant moment or two isn’t quite enough to pretend that Venus & Vegas is anything but a low-budget comedy that occasionally hits its mark.