St. Vincent

St. Vincent is the new Bill Murray / Melissa McCarthy movie that was released this week. It’s being billed as a comedy but it’s more of a dramady… so beware the humor drops out and the movie gets serious at about the half-way point. This actually made it a better movie since the comedy was pretty low-key – but the marketing is kind of lying.

Regardless of that, it’s the basic story of a single mother and her young son who move in next door to a grumpy old man played by Murray. His name is Vincent, this movie is named St. Vincent, the kid goes to Catholic school, they talk about real life saints among us, Murray is an abrasive, chain-smoking, boozing jerk… could he also be a saint? Yes, the major beats of the movie are predictable and you can guess the ending in advance… but darn if I wasn’t deeply moved by it anyway. That’s because the movie creates an nontraditional extended family out of a bunch of disparate characters including Naomi Watts as a pregnant Russian stripper/hooker.

I haven’t seen Bill Murray try this hard to play a real character in a long time. Now, saying Bill Murray is playing a misanthropic jerk probably doesn’t sound like a stretch, but I thought it was still a fantastic acting job regardless (with accent). Melissa McCarthy is playing it straight – she’s not her usual brash character and there’s no a fat joke to be seen (I like McCarthy in either roll – but she’s been doing the same thing for a few too many movies now). The kid at the center of the movie is pretty good – quiet, introspective, and his story is ultimately predictable but it still worked.

I liked this movie a lot. I was certainly on the fence early on since, as a comedy, it’s pretty low key… but once it becomes a gentle drama with a disparate cast of adopted family members, it really picked up. I was very moved at the end and that’s a major credit to the flick. It’s not as-advertised but you might find it surprising as long as you can roll with a little predictability.

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