Vincent is an old Vietnam vet whose stubbornly hedonistic ways have left him without money or a future. Things change when his new next-door neighbor's son, Oliver, needs a babysitter and Vince is willing enough for a fee. From that self-serving act, an unexpected friendship forms as Vincent and Oliver find so much of each other's needs through each other. As Vincent mentors Oliver in street survival and other worldly ways, Oliver begins to see more in the old man than just his foibles. When life takes a turn for the worse for Vincent, both them find the best in each other than no one around them suspects.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Vincent's car is a 1983 Chrysler Lebaron convertible with wood paneling. See more »
During Oliver's presentation, he says that Vincent fought in the Ia Drang valley campaign as part of the 5th regiment and without specifying a division. On the US side, the battle was actually fought by 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division. See more »
So this Irish guy knocks on this lady's door and says, you know, "Have you got any, uh... Any, uh... work for me?" And she says, "Um, well, you now, as a matter of fact, you could paint the porch." 'Bout two hours later, the guy comes back and says, "I've finished, ma'am, but just for your information, it's not a porch, it's a BMW."
[bar patrons stunned]
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The old curmudgeon has been a screen staple from Lionel Barrymore to Walter Matthau to Jack Nicholson. Yet no one has played this type of character so well these many years as Bill Murray. Even as a young man, the actor brought with him that droll view of life, a wicked acerbic wit, and a unique ironic humor to his many film roles from Ghostbusters to Scrooge to Lost in Translation. So his portrayal in St. Vincent may not be much of a stretch for the actor, but it is wildly captivating performance that needs to been seen.
Yes, the story is far from original. Crotchety old man finds love and redemption by the love of a young kid who he befriends begrudgingly. Vincent is a drunk and a gambler. Yet, his new neighbor, Maggie (a subtle and convincing Melissa McCarthy), hires him to babysit her son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), while she is at work making ends meet. Now right there, one questions the entire sit-com set-up and implausible story of the film, but one goes along with the preposterous notion for sheer entertainment purposes.
Placing Mr. Murray in that pivotal role is the force that binds this story together. He is both charming and repulsive in this part and the actor is an absolute comic delight. Vincent's the man-child, a boy who never grew up, a loner who survives from day to day and Murray nails his character. His droll asides when taking his young charge to a bar or racetrack, or cavorting with strippers and other unsavory persons are key to the film's enjoyment, as is his wonderful chemistry with Master Lieberger, who gives a natural and lovely performance as a child who seems to have more common sense than any of the adults in this film.
St. Vincent is an auspicious film debut by director/ writer Theodore Melfi. While his initial premise is spotty, the filmmaker more than acquits himself with his funny script and fine casting. Rounding out this wonderful trio of actors are Chris O'Dowd, Terrence Howard, and especially Naomi Watt as a Russian call girl with a heart of platinum. The entire ensemble delivers their lines with brutal accuracy and delicious comic timing, even if the film leads to a rather mawkish and sappy ending that some may find to be poignant. One just can't help relishing in the overall fun.
Technically, Melfi needs to learn more restraint as a director. He tends to overuse pop songs to reinforce his message and overdoes many scenes with melodramatic spurts. As a writer, he creates effective dialog mixed with one-liners that, at least, stay true to his well-written characters. But his plot structure is too conventional and simple in every sense of the word. He may easily achieved his goal in making a crowd-pleasing film, even if it lays on the pathos a bit thickly. And from the reaction of the moviegoers in my audience, the film scored highly amid the audible aahs and sniffles to my left and right. It doesn't merely tug at the heartstrings, it plays two part harmony too.
In truth, St. Vincent owes so much of its success to a small blessing known as Mr. Murray. It is his compelling presence that is the main attraction on display, and on that, everybody can rejoice! GRADE: B
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