Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ST. VINCENT (2014)

Rated: PG-13

Stars: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher

Director: Theodore Melfi

Genre: Comedy

Vincent is cranky. He's rude to most people, he drinks too much, and he consorts with hookers--but he has a big fluffy Persian cat that he pampers, and that's how we know he's really a good guy at heart. And who better to play him than Bill Murray, who's uncannily adept at being stinky and lovable at the same time!

When divorced mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her 12 year old son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door, Vince is predictably standoffish. Until circumstances drive Maggie to coax him (with money) to babysit Oliver after school while she's at work. The kid and the curmudgeon eventually warm to each other, as what 12 year old wouldn't enjoy hanging out in bars and going to the racetrack with such a colorful role model?  

We're in familiar film territory here, as just this summer we had Michael Douglas playing the mordant mentor to his young grand daughter in the Rob Reiner flick, And So It Goes.  But there is more depth to Murray's character, as we learn later about his exploits during the Vietnam war.  

A humorous subplot centers on Vincent's relationship with a pregnant "lady of the night" (Naomi Watts), and to add some bass to all that treble, we travel along to observe the tender moments he shares with his memory challenged wife at the care facility where she resides. 

It's refreshing to see Melissa McCarthy in a role that brings out her human side, and Naomi Watts is a trip as your friendly neighborhood Russian stripper/hooker who makes house calls at Vince's place. Newcomer Jaeden Lieberher, who looks like he could be Macauley Culkin's long lost love child, is believable as a wimpy kid who gets picked on, but then gets in touch with his his inner Karate Kid.

Saint Vincent is just the right kind of feel good movie to get you tuned up for the holidays, as you'll leave the theater with a warm and fuzzy feeling (which may dissipate when you try to find your car in the parking lot).      

Grade:  B +


loved this movie. Feel good, it definitely is! (And the audience agreed with me with some tentative applause at the end.) As Tim pointed out, curmudgeon roles are always a good staple. Who could forget Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets? Or even The Duke in The Shootist (his young sidekick was played by Ron Howard). Bill Murray was terrific. But let's not give him all the credit. After all, the writer/director Theodore Melfi deserves a pot load of praise for creating such a colorful character in the first place. Whether it's watching Naomi Watt's very pregnant character pole dance, or hearing the word "Shit!" escape from a priest's mouth (ably portrayed by Chris O'Dowd), the original moments abound in St Vincent.

The hits of the 60s interspersed throughout took me back in time, as they did for Vincent. Unfortunately, I can't name any of the tunes right now. But as they played, and Bill Murray danced, my feet were tapping.

If I had to criticize anything—and I am loathe to do so—it would be the ending credits. I'm sure in theory the director and lead actor loved the concept. But watching Murray improvise over all those credits got a bit redundant.

Grade: A   

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