Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts
Director: Theodore Melfi
Running Time: 102 mins
Rating: M (Violence, offensive language, sex scenes)
Verdict: Worth seeing for Bill Murray alone.
You've seen this story before - a curmudgeon reluctantly takes a lost kid under his wing and reveals he's not such a bad guy after all. But with Bill Murray playing the curmudgeon it's a story worth watching again.
St Vincent, the debut feature for writer-director Theodore Melfi, belongs to the same family as Bad Santa and About a Boy. It's a tragicomedy revolving around Vincent (Murray), a cash-strapped gambler and alcoholic who spends his days avoiding his creditors.
Sarcasm and rudeness are his modus operandi, and when newly separated mother Maggie (McCarthy) and her impeccably polite 12-year-old son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door they're subjected to a nasty Vincent welcome.
Not that this stops either party from agreeing Vincent should babysit Oliver, a move that leads to their budding friendship.
There's an impressive cast surrounding Murray. Melissa McCarthy does a good job in the small and serious role of Maggie, showing us she can do restrained and vulnerable as Oliver's inattentive and absent mother. Naomi Watts takes a while to warm to as a heavily accented, pregnant prostitute who visits Vincent each week, but turns out to be endearing and colourful, and looks like she's having fun.
The relationship that really matters though is between Oliver and Vincent. They work well together as they traipse race courses and bars, and Lieberher does a good job of not being intimidated by Vincent and letting us see beyond the grumpy, selfish act.
Murray goes to town as Vincent, well aware we're going to love him for his unorthodox take on an unlikeable character. He also knows there's a sentimental and manipulative ending on the horizon that will pull in any stragglers reluctant to get on board Team Vincent. To be fair to Murray though, even he looks embarrassed about the schmaltzy finish.
Yes, we have seen this story before, but St Vincent is a warm, enjoyable yarn with just enough sharp lines and laugh out loud moments to see you through.