Rental Corner: “St. Vincent” is Bill Murray at his best
Once in a while, you come across a movie that doesn’t need to be gripping or complex in order to get your attention. No fancy special effects or bloated budget. This is where “St. Vincent” comes in. On paper, there is some predictability at play. We are talking about the grouch who has a heart of gold but his view on life changes after someone of innocent nature makes him think other wise. Tell me, we have head this one before right? Well, in one way its more of an adult version of Pixar’s Up. Minus the balloons and fantasy elements. In fact, this whole movie is very much like that with almost the same morals but at least done in a more mature manner. And for me, that is what makes this movie so unique.
Bill Murray plays elderly grouch Vincent MacKenna who is up to his ears in debt, drinks a lot and still has a continuous tab going on with a prostitute he keeps seeing. In many ways, I should despise this character off the bat for how much he is wasting his life. But as the story goes along, we see there is this tragic side of him that really makes him human. He’s doing these things because of his self grief and a sick wife with Alzheimer’s disease that pushes him to the edge. Its a tragic character to the point you really want to sit down and comfort the poor guy. Bill is known for performing jerks and people with flaws but this one I think is his best to date since Steve Zissou or Bob Wiley from What About Bob.
Melissa McCarthy also plays his new next door neighbor as she has struggles of her own. Dealing with a struggle over custody with her son (Jaeden Lieberher), she seeks reluctant help in Vincent in watching over her kid while she has work and legal battles withe her ex husband. I’m normal in seeing Melissa doing comedic roles but she does a good job here too. She’s the kind of mother that is no nonsense and wants the best for her kid but the fear of loosing him gets in the way to ensure she is a good mother.
The conflict of that comes when Vincent has to watch over her son and you can already guess what happens. Next minute, they are betting on horses, drinking at bars and even learning how to fight bullies at school. But in a strange way, there’s almost this lesson to it. Like how to defend yourself and dealing with who you are. There’s only so many times you can try to convey how much a great guy you are that there’s really flaws in the surface. Watching “St. Vincent,” reminded me of a relationship between a grandson and a grandfather with the old trying to show the world in their view. I can be a sucker for those kinds of films as long as it done right. And in the end, a lot of it pays off as the kid learns there can be good people despite having a crummy life.
The only flaw I can think of it is that the story does predicable at times. There are elements here and there they toss in like Vincent having a bookie he owes and visits to his wife that sort of foreshadow this on coming event. Chances are if you can predict these outcomes a mile away, you know what will happen. In another sense, you don’t know this movie until you’ve seen it. Part of making a movie is not taking the same cliches and duplicating but taking them and doing something new. That’s this film.
“St. Vincent” shines the most in its characters and the way they play off each other. Its like a movie made on that one bitter neighbor across from you that yells at you to keep off his lawn. Picture that but a whole movie about it. There are times when it knows when to be really funny and times when it can be really heartbreaking. For all that’s worth, I really wish this was number one on my list of films from 2014. That is Wes Anderson didn’t wow me with an amazing hotel and James Gunn bring me to one of the best summer blockbusters I’ve seen in a long time. Give this a good watch and see for yourself what makes this grump so irresistibly entertaining.