Almost every adult will want to read the newspaper or tune in to CNN to find out what’s going on in the world. It’s our instinct to want to stay on top of things and be prepared should a situation come when were asked about a crisis in the middle east or a controversial brutality report from the Midwest. Often this is stuff that people would rather not talk about, but there seems to be a need to know just how much worse can humans be. That’s the one disadvantage of anything news related; they put much of the focus on all things negative. Should an elderly man save a dogs life, he might be lucky to find himself referenced at a twelve o clock recap, but should a crack smoking, wife beater get caught in a chase, that could take up all of prime time.
What I try to focus on is looking for any good news. That’s not to say I shut out all reports of conflict and politics, but I function better knowing that there’s a few individuals out there that want a mindset that we are always improving. St. Vincent is all about a grouchy man who is proven to be someone who can change a life, whether or not he wants to.
Vincent MacKenna (played by Bill Murray) is a Vietnam veteran who has drinking, smoking, and gambling problems while trying to care for his wife who has Alzheimer’s and his stripper girlfriend, the Russian Daka (played by Naomi Watts). He doesn’t show any interest in changing himself probably because he feels too old to do so. He owes big money to loan shark Zucko (played by Terrence Howard) and he’s barely making it enough so that he can further drown his sorrows at a pub.
He gets a new neighbor, a single mom Maggie Bronstein (played by Melissa McCarthy) whose movers accidentally wreck his car and fence, only giving Vincent an excuse to act like a Grinch. She also has a 12-year-old son Oliver (played by Jaeden Lieberher) who is adjusting to his parents divorce and is going to a private Christian school. A run in with bullies causes Oliver to loose his smartphone and keys to his house, forcing him to ask Vincent to let him in until his mother comes home. He agrees and even makes Maggie hire him as a babysitter so that he can finally make a little money. The two bond and start to grow on each other.
If there’s any rule I have for film is that “Bill Murray can never do wrong”. It continues to be the case as he once again plays the sarcastic smart aleck he tends to play, but we forgive him for being repetitive just because he’s good at it. The difference here is that St. Vincent is all about him being recognized in this world that he can still act this way and he can improve a child’s outlook.
The film is sweet and funny. Bill Murray, Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy all play off individuals that are shown wanting to be seen for the work they put in. Jaeden Lieberher is likable as the child, being able to react off of Murray’s dry wit with his own wit. The only flaw here is that it all comes as somewhat predictable. But for a story like St. Vincent, I see not much choice. A good way to describe this movie is that it feels like something that a Christian film company would produce without much of the preachy-ness. It screams “television movie of the week” but at least it’s likable television movie of the week quality.
I’ll give this four horse racing scorecards out of five. St. Vincent rarely comes off as offensive or mean spirited. If anything, the scrooge-like behavior only makes Bill Murray even funnier. This is his movie and if that’s what you want, you’ll get your fill.