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St. Vincent

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Oh boy. Where to begin. Okay, let’s start here. Can we please stop praising Bill Murray for playing these characters? Is it really that hard to play a crotchety old man that says sarcastic things every second? And fine, if the script is funny and you get Bill Murray – we’ll all love it. If you’re just trying to recreate Rushmore, with a younger boy, and want to use every indie movie cliché – perhaps a better debut movie from writer/director Theodore Melfi should’ve been made.

The most interesting thing Murray has done in years is his small role in Zombieland, and going up to people on the streets and doing wacky things (like sitting down at a couples table and eating their food, or photo bombing people at their wedding).

In this movie, Murray gives us an okay Brooklyn accent (that’s at times, a bit distracting). When his voice changes (SPOILER ALERT) from a stroke, it’s one of the rare times I laughed inappropriately in a movie. It just seemed so phony and…like it was Carl from Caddyshack (END SPOILER ALERT).

Vincent spends each day drinking, betting on the ponies, and getting 86ed from the local bar. He’s avoiding bills, his bookie, and any human that wants to interact with him. This means he’s not bringing over an apple pie when new neighbor Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) moves in. She has a 10-year-old son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), and in the first of a few unbelievable plot points, he is hired to babysit the kid.

A handful of things in the movie worked. One of them was having McCarthy play it straight. It might be the only character she’s played in a movie (aside from Bridesmaids), where you actually like her and can sympathize with her situation (she has a husband that cheated on her and isn’t paying child support).

That means we get all the scenes you saw coming; the kid joining him at the bar, helping him win a trifecta at the track, and the boy seeing the good side of this old coot. That being him making pilgrimages to an old folks home to check in on a lady. The indie movie You Can Count on Me did all these things so much better. At least the two had chemistry.

Oliver is a cute kid and not too precocious.

As I write this, I’m still not sure how I felt about Daka (Naomi Watts), the pregnant Russian stripper/prostitute that Vincent is carrying on with. Vincent doesn’t care about the bun in the oven, and apparently neither do the other patrons at the club she’s dancing at.

Terrence Howard shows up in a few scenes threatening Vincent if he doesn’t pay up. The always welcome Chris O’Dowd plays a priest that’s more in touch with contemporary things (strange to think that in his last movie, he killed a priest). It’s a shame that the title of the movie is a bit of a spoiler alert when, after the boy and Vincent have a falling out, the class is given a project in which they find a person that would qualify as a modern day saint.

It’s so crazy to think that there’s a possibility Murray will get an Oscar nomination for this. It’s also bizarre that a lot of critics are calling the movie “hilarious.” I can count the funny scenes on one hand, although one of my movie pet peeves did occur a few times – idiots in the audience laughing at scenes that aren’t supposed to be funny.

The tonal shift of the picture doesn’t work and it’s maudlin manipulation of the worst kind.

Another problem this formulaic film had was that Vincent never cared about this kid. So when the reveal tells us things about his character that might make us like him a bit more, that still doesn’t change the fact that he’s a vile human being.

As a music lover, I’m always fascinated by what choices are made in regard to the music in a movie. It was great seeing Murray rock out with his old-school Walkman to Brewer and Shipley’s “One Toke Over the Line,” but when the rolling credits have him singing along to Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm” (one of the best songs ever), I just thought about how Jerry Maguire also ended the movie with that tune. I also wondered why they picked “Somebody to Love” as the song on the jukebox he’d do a crazy dance to. We saw Jim Carey do a crazy dance to that song in The Cable Guy. I’m surprised they didn’t show a flashback of Vincent in Vietnam carrying a soldier over his shoulder while “Fortunate Son” played.

This is going to be a crowd pleaser for the indie set and film festival crowds. I was rather disappointed with it, despite getting teary eyed a few times.

It gets 2 stars out of 5.

4 comments

  • Movie Goer

    Fire this reviewer! A majority of the people in the screening I was in LOVED the movie (myself included). Another reason why I don’t think this person should be reviewing movies is that he doesn’t even know the actors names he’s referring to. It’s Jim CARREY, NOT Jim Carey! Find another line of work Josh, because this one CLEARLY does not fit you.

    • Josh Board

      Movie Goer — Nothing wrong with liking the movie. A majority of moviegoers are going to. Just like millions of people like the Adam Sandler flicks. If you didn’t see EVERYTHING coming down Broadway in this predictable movie, you’ve only seen 10 movies in your life. If you left the movie thinking Murray was a good person (because he fought in a war and loved his wife), then you know nothing about how people should treat other people. If you haven’t seen Bill Murray play this character before, I can give you a list of 8 other movies.
      If you think I should be “fired” for misspelling Jim Carrey’s name…wow. I’ve seen movie critics mispronounce and misspell, Martin Scorsese — and he’s one of the best filmmakers of all time. If you bought into the maudlin BS the movie tried suckering us in with…well, I’d hate to see what a blubbering mess you become when it’s done well in films like Terms of Endearment, Up, or The Champ.
      Also, explain to me why the loan sharks would stop worrying about their money just because he had a stroke. Especially since they broke into his house and were going to beat him near death.
      And lastly….the following critics/publications all liked the movie LESS than I did: San Francisco Chronicle, BBC, Boston Globe, Milwaukee Journal, Richard Corliss at Time Magazine (I doubt they’ll fire him), New Yorker, New York Observer (but I hate that I agree with Rex Reed, truth be told), USA Today, Hollywood Reporter, and the Village Voice. Locally, San Diego Reader critic Scott Marks called it one of the worst movies of the year, and Anders Wright at the U-T gave it 2 1/2 stars. So, you’re gonna want a lot of folks fired over a little indie movie that was cliche filled.

  • bob pearl

    Your funny with this review, first off when you say your pet peeve is laughing at inappropriate times when you yourself did it . I love that they played one toke over the line, I got KOGO to let me play that as i told them it was about the he who has not sinned can throw the first stone and they bought it,lol. Im glad you agree as this might be an oscar nomination as i agree as its a different angle from playing president Teddy and and my fav What about Bob which many thought was about me,lol. And it was nice to see Melissa play something semi serious which gives her more possibilities as not being type casted which i hate in this business. Once again you are a very cheap star giver but then I understand with all those millions of movies you have to compare with that can get you to misjudge some and not just take it as an individual movie like us normal people. Still very good review

    • Josh Board

      It’s so funny you say that, Bob. I thought the same thing as I was typing it. The audience was laughing at inappropriate times thru out. I just couldn’t help not think of Carl from Caddyshack. Now, when De Niro had a stroke in a movie or two, he did the voice well enough. And had Murray not talked out of the side of his mouth in Caddyshack, it wouldn’t have been noticeable.

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