UK Release Date: 5th December 2014
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard
Synopsis: A young boy bonds with his grouchy next-door neighbour when the ageing curmudgeon is paid to babysit him after school.
The release of a new comedy film featuring Bill Murray is generally a cause for celebration. He is a comedy legend and one of the most reliably entertaining screen figures working today. His latest film, St Vincent, places him in a role seemingly tailor-made for him, as the grouchy neighbour to a struggling single mother. Unfortunately, writer-director Theodore Melfi forgot to pack the jokes.
Vincent (Murray) is a grouchy layabout who lives alone, his solitude interrupted only by a local prostitute (Naomi Watts) and a guy at the dog track to whom he owes money (Terrence Howard). This all changes when single mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) moves in next door with her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). When the youngster needs a daily babysitter, Maggie pays Vincent to look after her child.
For all of its basic charm and occasional chuckles, St Vincent utterly fails to deliver enough in the way of emotion or humour. Whilst it isn’t a bad film by any measure and is often relatively enjoyable, it doesn’t make a lasting impression on any level and is forgotten as soon as the credits roll. It’s the film equivalent of a slice of toast.
| "He’s interesting… in a grouchy sort of way."
Murray is just as convincing as you’d expect in the lead role. He easily slots into the character of a drunken layabout and, on occasion, brings real life to Melfi’s somewhat underwhelming material. There’s a real delight into seeing him deliver lines over the top of a whisky glass and it feels as if the entire film is a vessel for Murray’s performance.
The supporting cast are, unfortunately, given very little to work with. Melissa McCarthy does a decent job outside of her obnoxious comfort zone, but is barely afforded any screen time at all. Thankfully, young actor Jaeden Lieberher is a real discovery and is able to handle the emotional heavy lifting of St Vincent with talent and gravitas beyond his years.
It’s odd that St Vincent manages to run for almost two hours without really saying anything. The film may culminate in a syrupy, maudlin finale that at least has a message, but it spends most of its time simply meandering around groping at jokes that aren’t there. If this is anything to go by, Melfi’s lightweight filmmaking style simply doesn’t work.
| "He don’t like people. People don’t like him."
St Vincent is a wisp of a movie that disappears in a puff of its title character’s cigarette smoke. It has nothing interesting to say and very little worth chuckling at. There’s also a streak of sickly sentimentalism that is completely it odds with the cynical world of the central character and serves to drag the film down until it’s barely worth the celluloid.
Pop or Poop?
As a Bill Murray movie, St Vincent is a perfectly passable couple of hours. However, as a standalone comedy-drama, it lacks any real heft.
The central performance is solid and the supporting cast try their best, but there is simply nothing here for them to get their teeth into.
St Vincent is a bland, grey hole that was supposed to be filled with a film.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.