Bill Murray’s never been a saint on screen. He’s excelled at and reveled in playing lovable curmudgeons on the screen.
In St. Vincent, he’s a little less loveable, adds a bit more of a curmudgeonly flavor and still delivers the goods in this dramedy at a boozing, prostitute loving sixtysomething who’s mastered all of the vices – including gambling and smoking with the aforementioned boozing. The film opens Friday (Oct. 24).
But like all curmudgeons in film, looks can often mislead and that’s very evident in St. Vincent which is Theodore Melfi directs from a screenplay he wrote. The film also stars Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts.
Meeting Vincent is akin to dealing with the obnoxious uncle who shows up on Thanksgiving and Christmas. He’s tolerated, but no one really wants him around, which probably explains the lack of friends in his life.
He drives a 25-year-old Chrysler, lives in a quasi-ramshackle home and employment for him is betting at the track. Of course he’s hurting for cash.
That’s until Maggie (McCarthy), a desperate single mother with a typically precocious son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) moves next door. Never one to pass on taking advantage of a situation, Vincent capitalizes on her need for a babysitter and assumes the role as Oliver’s caregiver educating him in the fine sport of horse racing.
Of course the two bond and of course their relationship hits speed bumps when Oliver’s jerkweed father decides Vincent is a bad influence. But the film has its share of surprises and a couple of genuinely touch moments. Overall, the performances give it an overall endearing quality.
Murray has fun with a familiar part. It’s something he always does when the role is familiar to him, but there is a different layer here as well, a bit of bitterness that is understandable as the audience learns more about Vincent’s plight.
His relationship with Oliver is made by Lieberher’s performance. He’s precocious, but far from obnoxious and the kid has a tough side that’s difficult to not appreciate.
Those expecting a comedic role from McCarthy will find the actress more subdued as Maggie. She takes advantage of the moments she’s given, but there isn’t a lot to of them to enjoy.
Melfi crafts a likeable film here. He concentrates on his characters, eccentrics that they are, along with a story that possesses flaws, including its share of clichés. But much of that is forgiven because of the performances.
Movie: St. Vincent
Director: Theodore Melfi
Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language.
Running time: 102 minutes
George’s rating: 3-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com