Words by Matt Poe
“St. Vincent” (2014)
A disgruntled man seems to bring trouble in just about everything he does. When a single mother and her young son move in next door, the two form an unlikely friendship.
Category: Comedy, Drama
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use and language
Starring Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Jaeden Lieberher
Written and directed by Theodore Melfi
Welcome back my friends to another edition of Poe’s Picks. Election season has finally ended and boy did I check out mentally and emotionally upon its end. We won’t get into the politics here because this is a place that I hope can remain an outlet for you to get away from the rest of the world and dive into a good (hopefully) movie.
So let’s forget politics for now because, quite frankly, I’m spent. We’ll keep this one short. But I’m not going to mail this one in on you, friends. I’ve got a duty to fulfill. Besides, we’ve got Bill Murray on the menu; you can never have a bad day when he’s around. Anyway, let’s dive in *puts on water wings, dives head first into shallow end.*
Vincent (Murray) is a retired Vietnam veteran who spends his days at the racetracks losing money he doesn’t have. He also spends a great amount of his time at the local bar washing his sorrows away at the bottom of a glass of whiskey, because, hey, why not?
Suffice to say, Vincent doesn’t exactly have a lot going on for him and he’s known around the neighborhood as a curmudgeon who turns away everyone in sight. That is, aside from Daka (Watts), a pregnant Russian stripper (great company!) who spends much of her time hanging around Vincent and making the two-headed monster in the bedroom together. (Sorry for that visual.)
Meanwhile, Vincent receives some new neighbors in the form of Maggie (McCarthy) and Oliver (Lieberher). Maggie’s ongoing divorce with her soon-to-be ex-husband finds the two moving in next door, much to the chagrin of Vincent. Eventually, Vincent ends up pulling some babysitter duty and slowly teaches Oliver life lessons about what he thinks it means to be a man and the dynamic duo stumble themselves into some funny situations.
“St. Vincent” falls in line with the second act of Murray’s career. In the first act, he was known for his wild and boisterous antics in movies such as “Caddyshack,” “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters.” Beginning with 1998’s “Rushmore” (one of my favorite movies which I hope will one day show up here) he transitioned into taking on more serious roles where he could utilize his deadpan humor. This one leans more toward the latter category. I love both Murray’s equally and for different reasons.
The film, at times, struggles to find its pace and themes. It gravitates from more serious scenes like where we begin to find out why Vincent turned into such a jerk in the first place. There’s also some drama with McCarthy, who I like very much, as she battles to keep custody of Oliver after the divorce.
Speaking of, McCarthy has some nice scenes in this one and her performance remains level, unlike the zaniness of her roles in movies such as “The Heat” or “Bridesmaids.” It’s also great to see Watts show up in a comedic role with that heavy Eastern European accent. She’s one of the best dramatic actors of the last 20 years, but to see her in a role like this is a nice surprise. Lieberher as Oliver does his best to steal the show from Murray and the two have nice chemistry together. It’s no small feat to hold your own against the legendary Murray.
I know everyone oohs and ahhs over Murray, but the man truly is a national treasure and the envy of everyone. No else does film and life like he does. I know Cleveland fans won’t like hearing it, but how badass was it seeing him chug champagne with Cubs players? Only he could pull that off. “St. Vincent” isn’t his best role (that’d be “Lost in Translation”) but it’s hard not to just smile whenever he graces the screen with his presence.
Murray’s certainly not the best actor, but his charisma is untouchable. He’s destined to live on forever and I truly hope he makes a pact with God or The Lizard King (he’s real, I swear) to make that happen. I want Murray movies in 2187 when I’m still around as a half cyborg. I’m voting for him when he runs for president in 2020 and already offering my services as vice president. Get on that bandwagon now because seats will fill up fast. Bill, if you’re reading this, call me back because we need to talk foreign policy strategies. And we need more beer.
Thanks for reading and enjoy yourself.
Until next time.
In Good Films We Trust,
Matt “Roger Ebert wishes he was half the film critic I am” Poe