St. Vincent ** 1/2
Dir: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Jaeden Lieberher, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terence Howard
Bill Murray is Vincent, a rude, crude, cranky old guy in Brooklyn who drinks, smokes and gambles too much. When the new neighbours, single mom Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her precocious (they hardly come as any other type in the movies) young son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door, Vincent finds himself hired (through a convenient set of circumstances) to babysit Oliver. He’s only in it for the money for his gambling and his weekly trysts with pregnant Russian prostitute, Daka (Naomi Watts) but (predictably) he quickly starts to bond with his young charge as he imparts certain life lessons to the boy.
Even more predictably, from the moment Oliver’s friendly teacher (Chris O’Dowd) sets his class the assignment of making a presentation on a modern-day saint, you know exactly where writer/director Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent will go from there.
This is a tale of redemption as the heart and goodness that lies under Vincent’s crusty exterior is slowly revealed to Oliver and the audience.
It is also, one suspects, an attempt to provide a warm and cuddly layer to Murray’s cool, cynical, misanthropic rebel screen persona that he’s perfected over almost four decades and a bid to win an Oscar nomination for a crowd pleasing performance.
Still, there are a couple of affecting moments and the cast all play well off each other. The interactions between McCarthy (in a nicely dialled down performance) and Murray work particularly well and elicit some genuine laughs. Watts’ Daka is over-the-top but pleasantly so.
Cut to chase: Predictable but the cast is fun to watch.