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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Movie Review - St. Vincent

St. Vincent (2014)
Starring Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd, Terrence Howard, and Jaeden Lieberher 
Directed by Theodore Melfi

St. Vincent treads familiar territory.  There's nothing that happens at the end of director-screenwriter Theodore Melfi's flick that you couldn't have telescoped from the first fifteen minutes.  However, the familiar story of a curmudgeonly old man who befriends an ostracized young kid only to have both their lives changed for the better is buoyed by some great performances and a charmingly funny script.

Bill Murray is the Vincent of the title, but the saint moniker is certainly questionable.  He's a cantankerous old man addicted to alcohol and gambling with a penchant for a certain Russian "lady of the night" named Daka (Naomi Watts) whom he just so happens to have currently knocked up.  Recently divorced nurse Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) moves in next door to Vincent with her young son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and Vincent reluctantly agrees to babysit the kid after an incident at school leaves Oliver stranded without his keys to the house.  Oliver clicks with the no-nonsense Vincent, and Maggie agrees to allow Vincent to continue to watch her son.  Needless to say, Vincent gets Oliver into some crazy situations while Oliver begins to soften Vincent's hardened exterior.

At the helm both directorially and script-wise, Theodore Melfi is perfectly adequate.  His script is sweet and gentle with three well-rounded main characters in Vincent, Maggie, and Oliver.  While the rest of the cast (the aforementioned Watts and Terrence Howard as a bookie, to name a few) are left to make the most out of more caricaturish characters (Chris O'Dowd succeeds the best at this as Oliver's schoolteacher who happens to be a hilarious priest), Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, and Jaeden Lieberher get some nice plot lines to build their acting around.

Don't get me wrong -- I truly enjoyed Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, but every role she's tackled in movies since then seems like a rehash of that same character.  Here, she's kind, sweet, and still funny as a good mom who's finding it difficult to transition to being husband-less.  I've recently been re-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and that show along with this role in St. Vincent remind me that McCarthy has what it takes to bring more than just hilarious raunch to the table.

Making his debut, young Jaeden Lieberher has the comic chops to stand opposite comedic heavyweights like Murray and McCarthy.  In his debut performance, Lieberher's Oliver gives a believable performance and is hopefully racking up additional roles in the future.

But St. Vincent is Bill Murray's movie.  While Murray's Vincent isn't necessarily an unknown character to anyone who's seen films like this, Murray brings a good amount of heart to the role that makes the title character into a more well-rounded individual.  His character goes through quite a few ups and downs (the "downs" of which get much more serious as the film progresses), but Murray does a great job of keeping that tinge of humor always believably present.  It's a nice role in a nice movie.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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