St. Vincent

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company

St. Vincent (2014)

Vincent (Bill Murray) is in a bad place in his life, and he will let anyone know it. He lives alone in a rundown home, is overdrawn at the bank and can’t win for losing at the race track. Vincent is a regular at the corner bar where the bartender tries to cut him off, to no avail. He owes serious money to the local bookie and can’t borrow any more money on his house. It seems Vincent’s only friends are his cat and a pregnant Russian stripper/prostitute named Daka (Naomi Watts) who sleeps with him for money.

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Vincent wakes up one morning to discover that a moving van has backed into his tree in his front yard, and a limb has come crashing down on the hood of his car. A single mom Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her young son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) are moving in next door.

St. Vincent

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Maggie is in the process of getting a divorce from Oliver’s father, and they have moved to Brooklyn to start their life over. Oliver’s first day at his new school is a disaster, as bullies steal his clothes, keys and phone while he is in gym class. Maggie isn’t at home after school is out, so Oliver is forced to knock on Vincent’s door to wait for his mom, starting a friendship between the two that will change both of their lives.

“St. Vincent” is such a fun ride that you are willing to overlook its flaws (it does have a few.) Vincent isn’t the nicest person, seemingly only caring about himself. He constantly throws out put-downs and rarely sees the good in any situation. But early on he sees something in Oliver that is worth bringing out. Oliver is also able to look past Vincent’s gruff exterior, choosing to see the person that Vincent rarely shows to the world, a man who cares. Writer / director Theodore Melfi slowly peels away the layers of Vincent’s cranky personality, letting us ultimately see that there is a real person beneath all that bluff.

St. Vincent

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company

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Bill Murray is the draw for this film, and he is excellent in the role. You can almost see the delight he has playing a man who on the surface isn’t very likable. Murray kind of coasts through the first portion of the film but makes up for it when the part makes him work, both psychically and emotionally, in the second half of the film. It’s the chemistry between Murray and Lieberher that makes this movie as moving as it is. Both have incredible comedic timing, and each actor can deliver a deadpan line with the best of them. If Murray is the center of the film, Lieberher is the soul, playing the part of Oliver to perfection. Lieberher delivers a speech near the end of the film that didn’t leave a dry eye in the house at my screening. A lesser actor would have destroyed this film, and it’s to Lieberher’s credit that this movie hits its emotional levels so

The rest of the cast is equally good. McCarthy shows her dramatic chops, toning down her normal over-the-top performance for a more restrained role that has a lot of heart. Naomi Watts as the” speak your mind” Daka, delivers most of the laugh out loud lines and plays very nicely off of Murray. Terrance Howard, while not asked to do a lot, does bring out a bit of his comedic side with his menacing bookie role.

For a film that has a mean, unlikable main character, it’s remarkable that this film is so much fun and has such an uplifting message. Writer / director Theodore Melfi does an impressive job bringing us an enjoyable film to watch and experience, filled with remarkable characters. You might not want to invite Vincent to your home, but you will want to spend some time with him and Oliver.   My Rating: Full Price

My movie rating system from Best to Worst:  1). I Would Pay to See it Again  2). Full Price  3). Bargain Matinee  4). Cable  5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again

“St. Vincent” Website

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“St. Vincent” is now playing nationwide.