John Wick (blah blah revenge blah), Ouija (blah blah ghosts blah) and St. Vincent (blah blah Bill Murray blah) were my choices this week. I was tempted to say the hell with them all and watch James Marsden in The Best of Me, but it’s a Nicholas Sparks movie and they’d probably kill him for no reason at the end. So I saw St. Vincent.
A grouchy, alcoholic gambler with money problems forms an unlikely friendship when he agrees to babysit his wimpy 12-year-old neighbor.
The whole ‘odd child forms unlikely friendship with unpleasant adult’ idea is not new. It’s the focus of About a Boy, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and approximately half of Adam Sandler’s movies. So St. Vincent isn’t exactly profound, but it is cute. Good for a few feel good hours of entertainment.
The unpleasant adult in this iteration is Vincent (Bill Murray). He drinks too much and loses all his money at the horse track. He also loses belonging to his loan shark Zucko (Terrence Howard). Vincent’s girlfriend is a pregnant hooker named Daka (Naomi Watts) and his house, car, and body are falling apart from neglect.
Vincent doesn’t give a crap. Much like I won’t give a crap about this movie by tomorrow.
Enter Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a recently divorced single mother with a huge chip on her shoulder where her ex is concerned and a hospital job that means she’s not around to look after her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) after school. On his first day at his new school Oliver gets bullied and locked out of his house and Vincent just seems to end up with the job of looking after him.
Luckily Oliver, like many children, is impervious to adult attempts to get rid of him.
Oliver goes to a Catholic school and his teacher, Brother Geraghty (Chris O’Dowd) has given the kids an assignment to research a modern day saint in their own lives. So while Vincent is taking Oliver to bars and horse races and teaching him how to break other kids’ noses, Oliver is filing away little facts and tidbits that suggest Vincent’s not as much of an a**hole as he seems.
So pay attention, little sugared-up lunatics. What are your moms/dads/babysitters really like?
The problem for me is that Vincent really is as much of an a**hole as he seems. Doing laundry at the nursing home or giving his cat high end food doesn’t make up for the fact that he gets drunk while he’s supposed to be looking after a minor and lies to his neighbor to get her to pay for a fence he wrecked himself. Maybe I only felt that way because I don’t belong to the Cult of Bill Murray like writer/director Theodore Melfi seems to assume of everyone, but there it is.
How dare you try to collect money from me? I’m Bill f***ing Murray!
Melissa McCarthy, who I actually am a fan of, doesn’t have much to do in this movie. Her role is mostly dramatic except for a few witty lines – which is good. It’s something different for her. But the premise requires her to be absent most of the time so Oliver can bond with Vincent, and that’s a shame.
It’s a good thing I work in the hospital, or I’d barely be in this movie.
Ze appeal of Vincent to you, maybe it is Lost in Translation, yes?
What really sold me on the movie was the kid. He’s polite, small, well behaved, and responsible. But at the same time he’s totally clueless about stuff like what Daka’s job is and why kids at school want to pick on him. He’s like a tiny grown up who’s also still a kid. It’s adorable. And he actually does get something out of his friendship with Vincent – he learns to defend himself and makes a friend out of Robert (Dario Barosso), one of the bullies.
You’re just jealous because YOU don’t have an alcoholic loser for a babysitter.
On the whole, St. Vincent was a little darker than I was looking for in a comedy – it was more of a dramedy than anything else – but in the end, I didn’t walk away thinking ‘what a downer.’ So if you’ve got 102 minutes to kill and you want to watch something cute, give it a go.