Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Terrence Howard, Chris O’Dowd
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Synopsis: A young boy whose parents have just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door.
I will preface this by saying I will have liked St. Vincent no matter what because I love a good ‘coming of age’ movie and I love Bill Murray. I especially like Bill Murray being Bill Murray, and that is exactly what you get here. It’s nothing new, nothing that is going to change your opinion either way on Murray, but it is entertaining, funny and even a bit heartbreaking in places.
The story revolves around a young boy called Oliver who moves into a new house with his Mum, following her divorce from his father. Melissa McCarthy plays the role well, in an unusual serious role for her. I usually don’t find her particularly funny, so it was a pleasure to see her do well in this, in much the same way it was great seeing Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love, despite all of his other films making me want to crush my own head.
Anyway, back to the story. Oliver’s mum works long hours at the hospital, therefore needs someone to take care of her son. This job inadvertently falls into the lap of next door neighbour and candidate least likely, Vin, played by Bill Murray. He is a grouchy, drunk slob of a man with no regard for anyone, not even himself. Can he teach Oliver a few things? Of course he can. More importantly can Oliver teach Vincent a few things? You betcha. Together they form an unholy alliance, with the young boy being led astray to the local bar, the race track and all manner of other places. He loves it, Vin loves it, his Mum does not. Especially when she finds out Vin’s other ‘pal’ is a Russian prostitute (Watts).
The film, as I said, is an age old formula and your enjoyment of it’s familiar story will depend mainly on whether you like the performers. And who doesn’t like Bill Murray? He plays Vincent brilliantly as you would expect. There are some really nice moments, such as the budding friendship between the young boy and old man. There are some heartwrenching moments, such as Vin going to visit his wife in a home he can’t pay for. She has alzheimers and doesn’t remember him but he insists on taking her washing home after every visit. There is also the odd misjudged moment, such as Vin’s stroke and his double quick recovery time. It screamed ‘Oscar’ worthy even though it didn’t have anything to back up that claim. To put it another way, it felt shoehorned in.
All in all though, as with any Bill Murray project, I enjoyed St. Vincent a lot. It’s nothing earth shattering admittedly, but it was a fun film, and I loved Bill Murray’s rendition of Shelter from the Storm by Dylan at the end!