Top critical review
Without Bill Murray, this would just be St. Who Cares
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 10, 2015
With Bill Murray being so selective with the projects he takes on these days, when he's in something that usually (more like hopefully) means that there was something about it that drew him to the material. After seeing this, I think it's pretty obvious what's the case here. The role of Vincent in ST. VINCENT is a fairly plum role that plays to Murray's strengths as a comedic/dramatic actor. Beyond that, the film is fairly predictable in the directions the plot takes, and just a wee bit maudlin. Still, the performances were generally good (save one), and there was enough consistent laughs for me to say I legitimately enjoyed myself. The basic plot is that Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door to Vincent (Bill Murray). Since Maggie works at a hospital and has long hours, Vincent starts looking after Oliver when he comes home from school. However, Vincent is also a curmudgeonly old man who smokes, drinks, gambles and hangs around a prostitute...and Oliver is exposed to most of this. Oliver is also a rather small kid who has trouble fending for himself at his new school. The way the narrative is set up is akin to stacking a deck of cards. If it might tug on the heartstrings then it happens, and every major cast member learns something valuable. The end. To call this film formulaic would be an understatement, yet the charming cast sells it like it's the next big indie gem (which it kind of is, at times). Far and away, the best performance is given by Bill Murray who, in a way, is quite unlikeable, but once you find more about him becomes less so. I also liked how Melissa McCarthy plays against the type she's built for herself, and is more restrained and personable compared to Bill Murray's character. I even liked the child actor who plays Oliver, although there were a few moments that didn't quite work for me. The only cast member who had me scratching my head was Naomi Watts as a Russian prostitute. She had this horribly stereotypical accent and was of little consequence to the plot, except maybe to add another ray of light to Vincent's halo, so to speak. Even though she had a few funny moments, most of her scenes felt like padding. Of course, one thing that does need to be addressed is where the film ultimately ends up, and despite the borderline saccharine plot developments preceding it, the conclusion of the film was well-done and touching in its own way. Overall, ST. VINCENT is a perfectly decent film that is inoffensive and quite funny at times, largely thanks to Bill Murray. It doesn't win any points for originality, but it makes a good time-passer.