St Vincent

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St Vincent

We’re all grown-ups here; we all know how movie trailers work. They’re designed to take a full-length feature film and turn it into a 90 second commercial for how awesome the full length version is. The trouble with that comes when in telling you how awesome the full length version is, they forget to mention major elements of the full length version. Sadly, if you’ve seen the trailer for St Vincent and thought to yourself, ‘Awesome, a Bill Murray movie where he’s just letting his hair down and being funny for once’, you’ve only gotten half the story. Still, that half is accurate: Murray plays Vincent, a grumpy drunk who spends his bountiful free time in bars, down the track or with a pregnant Russian stripper and hooker (Naomi Watts). Then after a night that ended with him drunkenly crashing his car into his own fence, he’s woken by clumsy movers knocking a branch off his tree and figures it’s the perfect opportunity to blame all the damage on them.
Moving in next door is newly single and extremely harried Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), starting a new life after splitting from her cheating husband. She now has to work; with Oliver being targeted by bullies (and also only being eight) he needs someone to babysit him; Vincent needs the cash due to growing threats from his loan shark (Terrence Howard). So far so good, but while they’re having dodgy adventures in bars and down the track and Vincent is scaring the heck out of Oliver’s bullies, there are warning signs that things are not quite as cynical as they seem. Could Vincent be hiding a heart of gold? Could a small child be the one to teach him to love again? Could the way his teacher at his Catholic school only seems to teach about saints have some connection with the movie’s title? It’s not that the sentimental turn this takes – and it is a pretty sharp turn – is bad in and of itself, but it’s very much by-the-number stuff designed to leave audiences feeling good rather than actually telling an interesting story about the characters as presented.
There’s a few too many convenient coincidences in the latter half as well – especially regarding Vincent’s money troubles. The film as a whole, they’re set up to be this big dramatic part of the story, only to evaporate in order to get to the feel-good stuff. Murray is as charming as hell, as usual, and everyone else does a good job of being exasperated with him while still having a soft spot in their hearts for him, but the “heart-warming” ending this serves up doesn’t feel anywhere near close to being earned.
By Anthony Morris