Monday, December 8, 2014

ST. VINCENT (2014)

Written & Directed By: Theodore Melfi 
Cinematography By: John Lindley 
Editor: Sarah Flack & Peter Teschner 

Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Terrence Howard, Chris O'Dowd, Scott Adsit, Ann Dowd, Reg E. Cathey, Nate Corddry

Vincent is an old Vietnam vet whose stubbornly hedonistic ways have left him without money or a future. Things change when his new next-door neighbor's son, Oliver, needs a babysitter and Vince is willing enough for a fee. From that self-serving act, an unexpected friendship forms as Vincent and Oliver find so much of each other's needs through each other. As Vincent mentors Oliver in street survival and other worldly ways, Oliver begins to see more in the old man than just his foibles. When life takes a turn for the worse for Vincent, both them find the best in each other than no one around them suspects.

The film is essentially a character piece that revolves around Bill Murray's character. So your tolerance and enjoyment of the film will pretty much rely on how much you like Murray as an actor and performer. Though I'd be had pressed to think Of another actor in the role. As it seems built around his skills and personality.

It doesn't reinvent the wheel and cones off pretty basic essentially of the mean, gruff character with the heart of gold. We get to see his selfishness and hidden acts of selflessness.

You can see why he took the role it's offbeat and is a nice placeholder along with his other comedic character performances that are more melancholy and downtrodden, but still manage to be lovable and you find yourself liking. Though he characters don't beg for your sympathy or for you even to like them usually. They are just interesting and played apologetic where the character's good qualities are only visible if you really are looking or present themselves matter of fact when he thinks you aren't looking. Plus it always looks like Murray is having fun.

Here he is comedic but more dramatic then he has been in awhile and even tries a slight new york old school accent. He actually seems to be putting in an effort and not coasting on his image and making it all seem like he is at ease.

Now while the direction and story are basic and familiar. The script does add a few original notes that don't feel there just to be quirky. Making the film have an electic if not totally original voice.

As the film goes along though the their characters other then the boy seems like small roles especially for noted actors to take. They eventually get at least a scene or two to shine in and add to the atmosphere of the film. Though really they are rather small parts for the actors of their nature. Though it might have been a chance to show off character acting chops. The fun an unorthodox at times nature of the screenplay and also the chance to work with Bill Murray.

It gives Melissa McCarthy a role in which she isn't the lone main comedic voice and allows her to be dramatic and not as profane in her behavior. As essentially the straight man. For the comedic hijinks.

You know all the bases it has to hit, though you have fun along the way in the journey. It's a unorthodox cookie cutter type of film. It's tasty and familiar, but only in different shapes then you are used to.

Even towards the end it manages to make the audience tear up. Which I wasn't expecting even though you know where it was going. It goes over a bit in telling us about the character and why he should be celebrated. Which the audience could really put together themselves. Yet it makes you not be able to resist and turn away

It's a surprise rentals, that can be fun. Though you don't necessarily have to go out of your way to see it. Unless you are a Bill Murray completist.

Grade: B-

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