Friday, October 24

REVIEW: St. Vincent

Directed by Theodore Melfi
2014 Comedy Drama
1 hour 42 minutes
From the Weinstein Company

Bill Murray
Melissa McCarthy
Naomi Watts
Jaeden Lieberher
Chris O'Dowd
Terrence Howard

Vincent is a crabby, rude, profane, disagreeable, messy, sloppy hedonist.  How did they ever think to offer Bill Murray such a role?  Uh-huh, yeah.  He also pinches things, drinks too much, gambles to a fault.  He does greatly care about his wife who is in a nursing home and is loving to his cat, Felix.  And then he gets a new nextdoor neighbor.

Oliver is a 10-year old living with his divorced mother who works a great deal at a hospital.  It is convenient for these two that the kid is looked after by Vincent.  Vincent is reluctant to do much of anything that takes him out of his easy chair with long-haired Felix sprawled across his lap.

Soon Vincent determines that the kid isn't going to keep him from doing anything so he takes him to bars and the racetrack and introduces some major profanity to him and teaches him how to fight when a bully picks on him. 

The ending, rather predictable in stories like this and yet not unsatisfying, is when all the principals are gathered in a specific location and the kid gets to wrap it all up by doing and saying things designed to bring a tear or two to the eye.

While I did like the film, it didn't offer anything I haven't seen countless times before.  The story could have been elevated to a greater degree-- put some meat on those bones that we've gnawed at for some time-- and it might have garnered more critical acclaim than it's bound to.  Instead it is a pleasant little story that is unlikely to cause any great ripples.

The best thing about the movie, of course, is Murray, who, let's face it, could play this role in his sleep.  He dominates the proceedings and causes most of the film's laughs and emotional tugs.  But leave some room for newcomer, Jaeden Lieberher (is it too late for a name change?), who keeps up with Murray all the way.  I thought he was delightful and the two played off one another extremely well.

Naomi Watts was good as Murray's prostitute-galpal, a tough cookie with a Russan accent, I guess, who has no trouble keeping Murray in line.  Here's another first for me, too... my first Melissa McCarthy movie.  I expect those who are going to see this film because of her will be quite disappointed because her usual screen personality (hey, I see previews and hear what her fans say) is not here.  While she turns in a credible performance, she is little more than the mother.

For Murray fans, well, you folks are likely to have quite an enjoyable hour and 42 minutes.  Pass the Milk Duds.

The Directors


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