St. Vincent – 4 out of 5
Okay…even though I watched the trailer and said, "Yes, I would like to watch that," the reality is I didn’t need to see the trailer at all. All I had to be told was that it was a drama/comedy that starred Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy and before the imaginary person who was telling me this finished pronouncing the "Y" in "McCarthy" I would have punched them in the face, apologized for reacting that way and explain that I’m sold and they don’t need to say more…then I would fly away while rainbows shot out of the bottom of my feet (shut up, this is my fake scenario here).
|Is it possible to hate Bill Murray? No, why would you ask such a ridiculous question?|
Vincent (Murray) is a grumpy old man. He drinks, he swears, he smokes, he gambles and he pays for sexual services from a pregnant Russian stripper named Daka (Naomi Watts). One day, a woman named Maggie (McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door. Maggie is a hard working mother going through a divorce from her husband and can’t always be there to watch her son while she is slaving away to make ends meet. By chance, Vincent ends up becoming Oliver’s babysitter and he, for better or worse, bonds with the kid and ends up teaching him some of the more seedy ways of the world. However, remember when I said "for better or worse," well…that worse part shows up in the form of Vincent’s gambling addiction and his wearing health and it threatens the friendship between Oliver and Vincent.
|Drinking, smoking and learning to fight...every boy's youth.|
Movies that involve the creepy weirdo in the neighborhood that turns out to be the world-weary and street-smart teacher is nothing new in the world of entertainment. However, when Bill Murray is that creepy weirdo, you’re on to something…something amazing! St. Vincent is jam packed with humor, heart and terrific performances. It was a film I really wanted to see but was unprepared for just how amazing it was.
|Fun Fact: Bill Murray also played his character's cat. The guy is just that versatile.|
First off, I’m a fan of both Melissa McCarthy and Bill Murray and pretty much expected greatness from both of them…and I got that! Both performers were able to master being both emotional and funny at the same time. McCarthy is a lot more subdued than the usual spotlight-stealing, larger-than-life presence we often get from her and it really showcased that this woman is terrifyingly talented. Murray, on the other hand, we already knew the guy had god-like powers when it comes to acting but, like much of his work, he continues to surprise and really made his character vile but humorous and heartwarming at the same time.
|McCarthy, forced now to keep an eye for butthurt Ghostbusters fans.|
One member of the cast I was very surprised and extremely pleased with was Jaeden Lieberher as Oliver. Kid actors are always a gamble because if they don’t just have the natural acting gene chances are they aren’t that good. Lieberher, on the other hand (who only had one previous acting credit before this), proves he is extremely talented and was able to not only assist in making Oliver an emotional character that was easy to relate to and sympathize with but was a very funny one. Lieberher was able to hold his own with the likes of Murray and McCarthy and proved he knew how to exactly make scenes funny and knew all the right notes to hit.
|Hey Marvel Studios and Sony, I know you're looking for a new Spider-Man and this kid|
can act and be funny...sure, he's young but you can fix that in post, right?
The only thing I didn’t care about in the cast was Naomi Watts. While I didn’t find her performance bad, I just didn’t dig her character or felt it brought much to the story. Aside from the fact that Watts is spitting out a very cartoonish Russian accent, I really didn’t see much in the character of Daka that really helped the journey of Oliver and Vincent beyond her being the love interest that pushes Vince's stubborn ass. That being said, I still didn’t find her character to be that annoying or entertaining killing. In the end, maybe a little more development for her and her relationship to Vincent might have helped but, as it is, it’s just a minor complaint that doesn’t impact the score and exists fine as it is.
|"I have to go and catch Moose and Squirrel."|
The story for this one is pretty amazing as it is capable of being really, ridiculously funny but "sobbing so hard your tear ducts just ruptured" dramatic. The path that Oliver and Vincent take result in hysterical scenes that involve Vincent teaching Oliver to fight and how to gamble but the lessons Vincent showed to Oliver and the honor he shows on him at the end of the film made me cry like a child that just lost its balloon. The downturn in health that Vincent takes in the story only made the dramatic sections of the film that harder hitting and really created a dramedy that hits you with both the highest highs and lowest lows.
|Also Chris O'Dowd is in the film and that wins it points automatically.|
This element, however, can work against the film as it might come off as too sappy on occasions. For example, while I liked how Vincent’s bad turn in health helped his character and helped solidify his relationships with Maggie, Oliver, and Daka, it did come off a tad superfluous and unnecessary when you factor in how much is really going on in the story—sometimes, there’s just too much going on. In the story, Vincent has a gambling problem and has a lot of debts out there that a loan shark (played by Terrence Howard) wants him to make good on. While this leads to defining character attributes of Vincent, it ultimately has no real solution and it shows that this film might have had too many things going on.
|The most forgiving loan shark in the world.|
Even with its very minor issues, St. Vincent is one hell of a movie. With its top shelf drama, hysterical comedy, and absolutely fantastic performances, the film is second-to-none and a great example of a dramedy.