Directed by Theodore Melfi
Starring Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd and Terrence Howard
A young boy whose parents just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic, war veteran who lives next door.
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★★★½ review by Esteban Gonzalez on Letterboxd
“I honestly don’t remember.”
If you happen to look at the poster for St. Vincent you might go into it expecting a full blown comedy, but you would be surprised because this film takes a much more dramatic and sentimental approach. There are several funny scenes of course because Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy are involved, but it’s also touching and emotional. There are many comparisons in tone with Jack Nicholson’s As Good As it Gets because the lead character is a grumpy old jerk who the audience is forced to sympathize with. It is a very fine line that an actor has to walk through when portraying a character such as this because the performances can seem cartoonish and forced at times, but Bill Murray pulls it off in a very authentic way. His character actually feels real in this movie despite all the flaws with the script and the overly familiar plot. St. Vincent follows pretty much all the cliches in the genre where you have this grumpy man being softened by a kid in need of a father figure (think Up, Big Daddy, Bad Words, Bad Santa, among others). Even Michael Douglas starred in a similar role this year in And So It Goes. The difference however with that film is that Bill Murray was able to make his character feel believable. St. Vincent is worth the watch because you get to see one of the greatest comedic actors in a lead role, and that is something rare these days. The film may be formulaic and sentimental but Murray makes up for its flaws and turns this into an enjoyable experience. I have no idea where the Oscar buzz came from because it isn’t even close to being a groundbreaking film. It is way too familiar and full of cliches, but Bill Murray gets to do what he does best and that for me is a good enough reason for recommending this film. Director and screenwriter Theodore Melfi’s greatest asset is Bill Murray; without him this film wouldn’t even be talked about.
I know that I’m being unfair with the rest of the cast by giving Bill Murray all the credit, but there are also some very interesting performances from them as well. It was a pleasure to see Melissa McCarthy playing a hard working single mother. For the first time she didn’t get a character that was screaming all the time (she is funny doing that but she was getting typecast). She gives a genuine and toned down performance and I hope she gets more roles like this. Naomi Watts played a Russian hooker (a lady of the night is how Murray’s character explains it to the kid) and I actually enjoyed her performance as well. I thought she nailed the accent and had some funny scenes. Chris O’Dowd shines as the teacher of a Catholic school and Terrence Howard makes a couple of screen presences as well. The sweet kid is played by Jaeden Lieberher and he also delivers a believable performance and shares great chemistry with Murray. This is the sort of sentimental film which audiences will love, and thanks to a strong cast many critics may be won over as well despite all the flaws. In the end my major complaints are that everything is resolved a little too tightly and some of the subplots could have been explored a lot better (like Murray’s relationship with his wife). It is a feel good movie which Murray sells really well despite being mean spirited throughout most of the film.
★★★½ review by Travis Lytle on Letterboxd
Fitting into the tonal gray area between melancholy comedy and light-toned drama, Theodore Melfi's "St. Vincent" is a pleasantly low-key charmer about the makeshift families that become the foundation of people's lives. With a standout performance by Bill Murray and story with enough warmth to melt the most cantankerous of hearts, the comic drama is appealing and capably assembled. It is an engaging coming-of-post-middle-age tale.
Revolving around a single mom and her son who move into a Brooklyn neighborhood only to find themselves in the bad graces of the man next door, "St. Vincent" charts the unlikely friendship between Bill Murray's cranky Vincent and Jaeden Lieberher's impressionable Oliver. The story beats are familiar but fulfilling, and the narrative's strength is allowing Vincent's hidden humanity to be revealed over the course of the film.
Melfi has an eye for texture landscapes and characters, and both are efficiently communicated. His cast his strong, and it provides an equal dose of edge and heart. The film deftly treads the line between somber and joyous, bearing a layered tone.
With moments geared to generate both laughter and tears, "St. Vincent" offers low-wattage entertainment and spot-on performances. Its emotions are rarely forced, its narrative is alive, and its themes are important and human. It is a satisfying experience.
★★★½ review by Mr. DuLac on Letterboxd
He don't like people. People don't like him. Except you, why you like him?
It's a big old bag of cliché ridden fluff. Cliché ridden fluff starring Bill Murray however.
Theodore Melfi makes his feature film directorial debut here from his own script, which is sentimental schmaltz from beginning to end while the film also manages to drop a plot thread or two when convenient. To be fair though if the disappearing plot thread takes Terrence Howard along with it I don't count it as a bad thing.
The predictability of the film is counter balanced by it's cast. How can you not be entertained by watching Bill Murray give life lessons to a 12 year old kid? Thankfully that 12 year old is played by Jaeden Lieberher who ends up having great chemistry with Murray.
Apparently Melissa McCarthy has to do small indie comedies to play normal roles where she can remind us she actually does have comedic timing and is great in small awkward moments as apposed to all those nutty loud ones she's now typecast in. She's also not the star of the film so you don't have to put up with her that much.
I love Naomi Watts. She's one of the greatest actresses working today. Here she plays a Russian stripper/prostitute who is off work because she's pregnant. Off from stripping, not prostituting. Somehow Watts seems to be channeling Lisa Kudrow in her performance despite her heavy Russian accent. Does that sound horrible? Of course it does. But unlike other Oscar Nominated Actresses (some winners too), she is still entertaining even when she's slumming it.
Sure it's mindless... but again... it's with Bill Murray.
★★★½ review by Caty Alexandre on Letterboxd
Bill Murray saves a film that could have been just another full of clichés usual comedy. As a great actor he is able to carry himself the whole story of the film and all his scenes are absolutely delicious!
St. Vincent is a funny comedy that tells the story of Vincent (Bill Murray), a former soldier of the Vietnam War, now retired, grumpy, alcoholic and compulsive gambler. Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a single mother has just moved into the house next door with her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and Vincent eventually becomes his babysitter. And so begins an unlikely friendship born between Vincent and Oliver. Due to his unbearable temper, Vincent is detested by all and gradually Oliver discovers what all did not want to see. Vincent in fact is a good man, just rebel with life itself but with a big heart. In the middle of all this will also have a funny russian pregnant prostitute (Naomi Watts).
Before a film with a story full of situations that we have seen in a lot of films of the genre, Bill Murray is undoubtedly the star that gives life and his charisma makes this comedy into something worth seeing, not being just another one. His character is quite well built and it is impossible not to be well amused to see that super grumpy man on the screen. Melissa McCarthy who is used to having prominent comic roles in here she can provide laughs, but always being much more subtle than she has been in her previous comedies. Chris O'Dowd is very funny but with a small performance that stands out in the middle of everything, as Naomi Watts in a very different role from what she usually does. The young actor Jaeden Lieberher and Bill Murray make a very good team and the chemistry between the two is notorious.
St. Vicent is full of charm that will warm the heart with some emotional touches throughout the film and everyone will surely enjoy, providing many moments of good humor.
★★★★ review by Alex on Letterboxd
If this was trimmed a little more tightly and didn't fall too heavily into sentimentality in the second half, we would've had an excellent film. As it is, St. Vincent is a highly enjoyable and often quite funny film that gives Bill Murray plenty of room to show off his considerable talent.
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