Poster

If you take it for what it is, St. Vincent is a thoroughly enjoyable experience—even if it is a twist on the tired old man, young kid trope. A curmudgeon who hates most people is a character I can identify with, and there’s just so much rich interplay to be had with that type of dynamic. Bad Santa may be annoying overplayed on television during Christmas, but it’s still a great fucking movie with memorable laughs. In many respects, St. Vincent is similar to The Way Way Back—one of my favorites of 2013.

Bill Murray as Vincent is probably his best role and most impressive acting in a decade.

If you watch St. Vincent and don’t at least like the movie, then I question whether or not you have a heart beating inside your chest. Writer-director Theodore Melfi went to great lengths to get in touch with and convince Bill Murray to star in this movie, but those efforts were well worth the payoff. Audiences are often too stupid to recognize accents and I’ve heard many complain about St. Vincent, but Bill Murray does a spot-on Brooklyn accent that makes you believe the character from the outset.

Personally, I would have enjoyed just staying with Vincent’s Bukowski-esque dirty old man antics for the entire length of the movie. But then I wouldn’t have the experience of seeing Jaeden Lieberher in his feature film debut. Lieberher plays Oliver, who is the scrawny little runt next door that’s relentlessly bullied at school. The kid is awkwardly adorable. Lieberher holds his own opposite Bill Murray.

The duo has dynamic chemistry that makes you care about the characters and their relationship.

Lieberher

For the first time I can remember, Melissa McCarthy is actually tolerable as Maggie (Oliver’s mom) because she’s not ridiculously over-the-top in her mannerisms and delivery. Essentially serving as the straight woman to Murray’s comic relief, McCarthy gives a grounded performance as a struggling mom moving out on her own and trying to take care of a kid by herself. St. Vincent seems to take pride in being a realistic coming of age portrayal that’s carefully seasoned with comic relief equally throughout.

Even Naomi Watts as a pregnant Russian stripper named Daka (friend with benefits to Vincent) and Chris O’Dowd as Brother Geraghty (Oliver’s teacher) provide laughs in their supporting roles. The acting elevates the writing, which is a welcome surprise in a dramedy. Everyone brings something to the table.

I can understand why some may characterize St. Vincent as too sweet, but I’m a sucker for a well-crafted piece of movie candy. The twist that comes about halfway into the story hits like a freight train when you start to realize Vincent might not be full of shit after all. It’s an impactful shift in the story.

Instead of a one-dimensional asshole, Bill Murray makes Vincent into a living, breathing human being.

Bill Murray

I didn’t expect to like this movie as much as I did. Although the nature of the story isn’t as serious as the current slate of Oscar-hopefuls, St. Vincent deserves ample adoration and praise for almost perfectly executing a dramedy centered on an old man and a young kid. However, there’s one substantial plot hole that is completely forgotten in the latter half of the film. Since that storyline sets a major event in motion, it’s something that seriously needed to be addressed. Even a throwaway line would have helped.

With so many lackluster movies in theaters, you should do yourself a favor and lighten the mood by watching St. Vincent. It’s a celebration of all things Bill Murray, and it’s more tolerable since it’s not a Wes Anderson film. If you don’t like St. Vincent, you need to get over yourself. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a sweet, smooth movie like St. Vincent—it’s as comforting as an ice cream cone in the summer.

Ice Cream

4 out of 5 stars

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