About A Boy meets Gran Torino meets Bad Words with some added heart.
This is the story of Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), a young boy that is forced to move to a shady area of Brooklyn after his parent’s divorce. Oliver’s mom Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) is doing all she can to provide for her family but that entails working several hours of overtime every night. With no one else to turn to, Maggie reluctantly hires their next door neighbor Vincent (Bill Murray) to watch Oliver until she comes home every evening. It isn’t long before this unlikely duo hits it off and begins to bond over the ongoing struggles that face their daily lives.
St. Vincent can be best described as a mash up between Chris & Paul Weitz‘s About A Boy and Eastwood’s Gran Torino with a sprinkle of Bateman’s Bad Words on top. The marketing campaign doesn’t very little to make audiences think this is a “must see film” but in my opinion, St. Vincent is the reason why people love going to the movies. This is a film that will make audience laugh, cry, and feel good about life while taking a journey with well written yet flawed characters that most of us can relate to.
Writer and director, Theodore Melfi brings together a great assemble cast that includes Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy,Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, and Terrence Howard. While there are a lot of familiar faces here, the glue that holds it all together is Murray and newcomer, Jaeden Lieberher. The pairing of these two is great for so many reasons but the one that stands out the most is their chemistry. It almost feels like Murray and Lieberher shared something special on set that allowed them to deeply connect with one another during filming. It was almost like they each knew exactly how the other was feeling at any given point throughout the film’s runtime.
The bond these two share is very similar to three films that I made mention of earlier. Vincent, on the surface is not a likable guy nor does he do things that should be seen by a child Oliver’s age. This is where elements of Words and Torino really come into play. Vincent curses up a storm and allows Oliver to hang around in bars and with prostitutes. The adventures they share with one another are similar to ones in Boy but don’t get me wrong St. Vincent is its own film just with remnants of these other films spread throughout. The journey these two go on showcase how a like many of us are and how no matter how bad life may seem at times that some good will always make its way through.
I must also add is that it was nice seeing Bill Murray play sarcastically funny Bill Murray as well as dramatic Bill Murray in the same film. Over the past few years, it seems like Murray has been taking on more of the smaller indie dramatic roles but here he mixes it up and I liked that a lot. In St. Vincent, he showcases why we know him as a great comedic actor but at the same time reminds us why he is worthy of some award recognition especially in the film’s 3rd act.
The rest of the cast is all solid as well. It was a real treat to see McCarthy doing something other than playing a fat woman who falls down all the time and can’t run fast. Chris O’ Dowd’s role was small but brought a good amount of laughs. Terrance Howard was decent but his role wasn’t all that important. And lastly, there is Naomi Watts, who plays a pregnant Russian lady of the night. While I will give Watts a lot of credit for playing this role and is rather good at it, I will complain that her character felt a bit out of place even though it served a real purpose. My issue with the character is really how over the top it was that it took away from her feeling genuine. All the other roles felt very realistic but when you added her into the mix, it seemed like it was a bit too much for no real reason.
All in all, St. Vincent is a almost perfect feel good film that will remind most of why they love going to the movies in the first place. There are many laughs to be had and tears to be shed but it is ultimately Murray’s performance that makes this film so worthwhile. I don’t think the story is anything that we haven’t seen done before but at the same time it is presented in a way that you can’t help but fall in love with these characters and be engrained in their story. It might not be the year’s best film, but it definitely is one of the year’s best feel good films.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating is a 9 out of 10.