Movie: St. Vincent
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: Vincent MacKenna (Bill Murray) is the poster child for aging curmudgeons. He spends most of his time in the neighborhood bar boozing when he’s got a few bucks, which isn’t often because he loses most of his money placing bets on the nags running at Belmont Park. In fact, he’s in hock to loan sharks, and it’s only a matter of time before Zucko (Terrence Howard) makes good on his threats to beat the stuffing out of Vincent for failure to pay his debts. Not only is Vincent in deep to the mob, he’s behind on his tab to Russian hooker Daka (Naomi Watts), his Tuesday afternoon thrill ride. So the neighborhood sees Vincent as an aging cantankerous bum barely scraping by, living alone in a rundown house with his loyal cat Felix.
Then one day, Vincent gets new neighbors. Escaping a bad marriage, Maggie Bronstein (Melissa McCarthy) moves in next door with her 10 year old son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). In a move born of mutual desperation, Maggie agrees to pay Vincent to babysit Oliver after he gets out of school until she can return home from long shifts at her hospital job. On the surface Vincent is a horrible choice to watch a young child, taking Oliver to the race track and the local bar. But on a subtle level Oliver begins to learn valuable life lessons and sees a side of Vincent that others do not.
What a terrific film this is on so many levels. As good as Bill Murray has been in other films, this is his best acting performance yet. The actors are all at the top of their game, and you get everything you could hope for in this movie, a story that gives you a mixture of humor and pathos. By the end of the movie don’t be surprised if you get a little choked up and misty-eyed. Look for this film to make the grade as a Best Picture nominee.
Actors To Watch: The whole cast could easily be included here. High marks go to Melissa McCarthy proving she can play a “normal” person and do it well. Jaeden Lieberher in a major role is so good as young Oliver in a coming of age story. Bill Murray is a lock for a Best Actor nomination. His Vincent character is played with layer upon layer of nuances, some understated but always captivating. Hope Bill wins the Oscar for this one.
Huh? What the….: In one scene a skate board gets broken over someone’s knee. I’m thinking it more likely the knee would’ve been broken. Just saying….
Dialogue Nuggets: Bank teller: “Here’s zero. You went below zero.”
“You know what it means? You’re screwed, and you’re going to remain screwed.”
Oliver: “Is that our new neighbor?” Maggie: “Yup.” Oliver: “It’s going to be a long life!”
Priest: “I’m Catholic which is the best religion, because we have the most rules.”
Vincent: “Who taught you to slap? This country wasn’t founded by tree huggers, that’s for sure.”
Post Credits Stuff: The whole audience stays to watch the credits while Bill Murray gives a virtuoso performance with a garden hose.