So, because the Golden Globes are unclear on what exactly a comedy is, St. Vincent got nominated for Best Musical or Comedy instead of, say, Top Five, and I have to review it. Ah, well, once they nominate The Tourist, I suppose every other complaint looks nitpicky by comparison.
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Produced by: Fred Roos, Jenno Topping, Peter Chernin, Theodore Melfi
Written by: Theodore Melfi
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
Plot: Oliver Bronstein (Jaeden Lieberher) is not having the best of times. His parents have separated, and he has had to move away with his mom (Melissa McCarthy) to Sheepshead Bay, New York, and tries to fit into his new school, always a tough thing to do for a kid. It’s no real cakewalk for his mom either, obviously, who is swamped with her job. So, to help lighten the workload, she hires her retiree neighbour, Vincent MacKenna (Bill Murray) to babysit him after school. Problem is, Vincent isn’t exactly the best example of a good role model for a 12-year old, being a drunken gambler who seems perpetually grouchy about something or other.
I really wish I had more to say about St. Vincent, because it is a good movie, but aside from some very good performances from Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy, it’s just that. Good. Not great. Not extraordinary in any way, and certainly not original. Just good.
I guess I should start out by complimenting the actors, who seem to be the focus of the majority of the praise directed at this movie, and it’s hard to see why not. The child actor is fine, and heads or tails above most child actors, but he’s not about to pull a Quvenzhané Wallis, as there were some slip-ups from him in the delivery of his lines, but that’s to be expected. You can’t really ask for much more from child actors.
Bill Murray was ideal casting, and he plays his part perfectly in this movie, and I can totally see why he was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Comedic Lead Actor, because he was just the embodiment of this cranky, cantankerous, yet sympathetic old man, even if, again, his character isn’t the most original. However, there is a point in the movie when his character undergoes a very drastic change that Murray performed excellently, and which may have ended up as one of his better performances.
Melissa McCarthy makes up for at least part of Tammy with a solid performance that was much, much more dramatic than one would expect from the lady who helped bring us Bridesmaids. Fine performance, but again, nothing particularly special, although it does give me hope that she can do better stuff than do her worst Will Ferrell impersonation for an hour and a half.
Naomi Watts is fine as well, playing Vincent’s Russian prostitute buddy, but it was surprising to me that she got so much critical acclaim, even a nomination for a SAG award for Best Supporting Actress. That’s really stupid. I mean, she was good, yeah, but award-worthy? They couldn’t have maybe given it to Jessica Chastain? Carmen Ejogo?
Also, I appreciate that the filmmakers decided against the tiresome trope of having Oliver’s Catholic school be the big baddie through all this. It’s not that I’m Catholic or even religious, it’s just that “Evil orthodox religious schools” are tied with “The government”, the “monolithic, evil corporation” and “environment-destroying, non-redeemable humans” as my least favourite clichéd movie villains.
Murray’s performance is phenomenal, obviously, but the main beef I have with this movie is that we’ve seen this story before. It’s the black sheep with a heart of gold, of course he’s gonna meet up with a nice yet pitiful kid and teach him something about himself, and of course the little kid is gonna return the favour and get him to open up to human kindness. Even when what I thought would be an earth-shattering event in the story occurred, it didn’t, really. It just kind of kept moving forward in the auto piloted fashion it had started off on.
None of this is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just been done a million times before, and it’s been done much better. I dunno, it was a good movie, it’s not like I was expecting another Lost in Translation, but it also wasn’t particularly gripping or interesting for me. I can’t think of anything offhand that I disliked about the movie. I like the characters, I like the performances, it was funny when it needed to be, sad when it needed to be. It does everything right, just not particularly well enough to itself particularly memorable, especially among all the other awards contenders. It’s a solid, feel-good movie. Just not necessarily a special one.
Overall: Look, St. Vincent is a good movie. It’s just not a particularly original or exceptional one, apart from Bill Murray’s performance. Will I hold this movie close to my heart? No, but it’s a nice movie to put on if you just need a warm, fuzzy feeling in the cockles of your heart.