St. Vincent

st-vincent-poster

Release: Friday, October 24, 2014

[Theater]

Written by: Theodore Melfi

Directed by: Theodore Melfi

In St. Vincent Bill Murray is the sort-of-bad guy, and Melissa McCarthy is the sort-of-saint. The role-reversal almost seems self-congratulatory it’s so overt. But does that make this comedy a bad movie?

That largely depends on how you define ‘a bad movie.’ That nine-letter phrase can imply so much. So let’s, before the headache, establish that ‘bad’ in this case translates as lazy; predictable; easy. In which case, you might as well stick a fat check mark in that box. St. Vincent rests on formula when it’s strongest and tugs violently on the heart-strings when all else fails. Had it not been for solid performances (I suppose here’s where I could include ‘predictability’ within the parameters of ‘bad movie’) this unapologetically manipulative and downright boring affair would likely be one of the year’s biggest letdowns.

Bill plays a curmudgeon named Vincent — a veteran of some war (let’s call it the Vietnam War — that’s the one where American troops were appreciated the least, right?) who these days is more comfortable with a bottle of whiskey in hand rather than a woman. But he’s not completely stupid. He makes sure to exude the one other classic symptom of hardened-vet status: a fascination with ladies of the night. In particular, it’s this Daka girl — I can only hope Naomi Watts isn’t usually this annoying — whom Vincent is taken by. He manages to scrape by with a pack of cigarettes and his shitty home cooking and makes regular rounds to the horse track to pay off whatever debts he owes to whomever it may be.

Oh yeah, that reminds me: Terrence Howard is in this.

Vincent’s ability to wall himself off from everyone becomes a character defect best disposed of when the script calls for it; i.e. when young and earnest Oliver (an undeniably excellent 11-year-old Jaeden Lieberher) needs a place to hang out for a few hours while his hard-working mommy (McCarthy) slaves at the hospital to pay the bills after moving to Brooklyn in the wake of a nasty divorce. Credit needs to also be given to McCarthy who, for the first time in some time, seems to be caring about what she offers a film. She’s fantastic. She’s the rock currently holding the two together as she staunchly defends her right, as a good and basically decent human being, to entrust another person to look after her son while she tries to fix things at home.

Too bad her mistake was to loan the babysitting reigns to next-door-neighbor Vincent. After all, isn’t he a man still trying to make things work with a stripper? In a series of “unlikely” events — made actually quite likely given the grouch’s understandable routine of bars, booze, and race track backtrackings — the man and the boy grow into a weird friendship of sorts. Again, this is at the behest of this script. I see no natural development here. (Nor do I have much inspiration to go back and find it, either.)

While enrolled in a private Catholic school, Oliver is asked by his teacher (Chris O’Dowd) to find someone students know, or know of, who may have qualities befitting a saint. Well gee-golly-willickers — I wonder who our fearless Oliver is going to pick? Surely not the bastard who once guilt-tripped his own mother into paying for the fence (and the fucking tree branch) that the moving company she hired was truly responsible for destroying. Yup. That’s the one. Yeah.

In the same way I’m willfully dismissing St. Vincent as a hollow exercise director Theodore Melfi is trying to prove his production has depth; originality. It relies heavily on Bill Murray to provide the gravitas, Melissa McCarthy the humor, and the child actor the quotient of precociousness a film like this needs to survive. Well you know what? It all just fails. Nothing about it seems saintly or even vaguely redeemable.

bill-murray-and-jaeden-lieberher-in-st-vincent

2-0Recommendation: I really don’t recommend this to many. For fans of Bill Murray, go watch Ghostbusters; pop back in the Caddyshack DVD; Moonrise Kingdom; hell, go re-watch Space Jam for something that better showcases his talents. Just stay away from this if you’re thinking all things Bill Murray. Unfortunately I’m in a bit of an awkward position because Melissa McCarthy is indeed saintly here. She’s great because she offers a great counter-balance to the permanence of Vincent’s depressive state, which is something Murray sells to great effect.

Rated: R

Running Time: 102 mins.

Quoted: “A saint is a human being we celebrate for the sacrifices they make, for their commitment to making the world a better place.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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15 thoughts on “St. Vincent

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  3. What a shame! I’d actually gotten the impression that this was much better. That’s especially too bad about Murray–I do love him. 😦 I am, however, very happy to hear such praise about McCarthy! I want to see her in more varied roles because I think she’s great. Basically, if they’d stop trying to make her the female Zach Galifianakis, that’d be great. Lol. Nice work!

  4. Love reading your stuff. Probably my favorite on WordPress right now. Keep it up my friend and may the Hollywood gods find it in their hearts to put a decent pie on the table soon. I’m getting frustrated, too.

  5. Neighbor is spelled neighbour in Canada. I live in Canada. Did you know that we don’t actually live in igloos here? We live in houses like in America.

    (this information sounds more exciting than this movie).

    • Cheers dude! I didn’t initially see comparisons to As Good as It Gets, but that certainly would have fit in nicely with my ‘Tastes Like’ section. I was struggling mightily to find another suitable comparison. Dammit. 🙂

      I wouldn’t turn away from this if you’re as big of a fan of Murray as I am. However if you’re a fan of inspired storytelling, get away fast.

  6. Didn’t work for you, huh? I had this on my docket but had to cancel because of a sick child. For some reason I can’t get really excited about it. A part of me wants to see it but I’m not really drawn to it. Does that make any sense?

    • No, it didn’t work for me that much Keith. I will say it’s not the worst movie of all time but with a cast like this why wasn’t this thing more special? It’s dampened by formula and marred by some pretty poor writing at certain points.

      I totally understand your position too; sometimes there are those movies that outwardly look appealing to us, but when we take a moment or two to think about it the thought of driving out and going to the theater is more effort than we’re prepared to put in. I totally get that! 🙂 St. Vincent, then, will probably make for a very solid rental night.

  7. “‘bad’ in this case translates as lazy; predictable; easy. In which case, you might as well stick a fat check mark in that box.”

    hehe that echoes what I saw it could be when I read the smallest bit about it.

    Now I want to watch Space Jam 😀

    • 😀 Space Jam man, you can’t go wrong with that. Bill Murray has one of my favorite roles in that movie. To think he could “play” alongside the likes of Bugs Bunny, and of course Michael Jordan, is just plain silly.

      Too bad he tries to go too hard here and comes off as a massive grump. Still, he’s likable on the virtue that it’s Bill Fucking Murray. And Melissa McCarthy is quite great as well. She def doesn’t deserve to be overlooked. But this script and general premise is not very well-advised. It’s boring. It’s repetitive. It’s easy.

    • It’s with sadness I have to report this news man; St. Vincent is not worth much at all. McCarthy is a huge saving grace though. If I were a generous person maybe I would bump the score up a tad, but. . nah. Lol!

      And yeah, to be clear here Murray isn’t bad at all in this. I just think this film could function just fine without him. The character of vincent isn’t anything special.

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