Anyone can tell from the short trailer for St. Vincent that you’re in for a recycled plot that we’ve seen at least a handful of times; The Crotchety old man becomes a softee when his heart is opened up by the unconditional love of a young child. Somehow though, that overused storyline is perfectly acceptable when the crotchety old man is played by the mysterious and often inspirational Bill Murray. With such a seasoned lead, and an exceedingly great supporting cast, it’s no surprise that this movie was one of my favorite releases of the year so far.
Murray plays the hopelessly intoxicated and downright deplorable character of Vin; a seemingly aimless gambleholic without any real cares or responsibilities. When recently divorced Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) moves in next door with her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), she is hard-pressed to find an adequate babysitter for the time after school at which she is working. Without much money, Maggie tosses the ‘adequate’ guideline out the window and settles for her drunken neighbor. Vin, having his own reasons for needing the income, utilizes Oliver as an errand boy while continuing his life of debauchery without interruption. Little does he know, lessons will be learned and feelings will be felt by all parties involved.
Although Bill Murray’s performance had the most reach for the actor, Melissa McCarthy definitely surprised me in this movie. I have become slightly disappointed by her range as an actress with recent films but her portrayal of the desperate single mother running out of hope was simply heartfelt. I was constantly rooting for her character to succeed and to never lose sight of her ambitions. Having my own experience being raised in a broken home, her character hit particularly close to home and that may be why she was so impactful to me, but it also means McCarthy hit this one out of the park. This is Jaeden Lieberher’s first feature length film but he is definitely a child actor I can see being boosted into larger and larger roles over the next few years. It doesn’t take much to make a kid LOOK smart, but getting him to act like the smartest person in the room is great deal harder to achieve. I don’t want to go without mentioning Naomi Watts as the Lady Of The Night because she is an incredibly beautiful and talented actress but her character was essentially additional comic relief in case anything from Murray fell flat. I was very surprised by her comedic timing and her thick accent made the movie that much funnier but no one can help being shadowed by the illustrious Bill Murray.
Most of all, I was just happy to realize that Bill Murray will never become a character in a movie in the way that Sam Jackson or Christopher Walken has. He still strives to become someone new with every role he accepts refusing to be type-casted in any way. Even with his extensive range, I could watch him sing-along with his portable cassette player for a full 2 hours and be completely content. For being heart-wrenching while also slightly derivative, I give St. Vincent 4 & a half Nerdskulls.