Premise: Bill Murray plays an old cranky guy in an indie comedy who agrees to watch his neighbor’s kid for $12 an hour. He’s rough around the edges, but the kid has plenty of life lessons to learn. And – wait, you were sold after looking at that picture, weren’t you? Why do I even bother…?
-In general, it is acceptable to criticize a film for emotional manipulation. It can cheapen a movie, it can seem like an easy way out, it can be a desperate attempt for a lesser film to try to raise itself into something more than it is. However, in St. Vincent’s case, it is absolutely the end game from the very beginning, so to not accept the eventual forced tugs on the heartstrings is the equivalent of walking into an Iron Man movie and not expecting a big, special effects showdown to occur at the end. It would be stupid. St. Vincent is most definitely in the emotional manipulation business, and it succeeds very well. Even after saying that, the third act of this film totally gave me a big lump in my throat, and I had to fight really hard to not have tears spill out my increasingly watery eyes. Call it emotionally manipulative, call it the genre of the film itself; I call it exactly what I was hoping for from the movie. Getting watery eyes from an indie drama/comedy is the ideal conclusion, if they are able to do it right. It’s what separates the forgettable ones from the memorable ones. Was the Skeleton Twins alright? Sure. Did it make me feel anything the first time? No. Do you think it will on any repeat viewings? Probably not. So, do you ever plan on watching it again? I don’t see why I would, if I’m never going to get anything emotionally rewarding out of it. AND SO FORTH.
-Bill Murray did an amazing job of making what, in almost any other circumstance, would have been an Oscar bait performance seem more like a passion project than a cheap awards grab. Maybe it’s just because he’s a national treasure, or because he’s so incredibly earnest and ballsy with everything he does, but I can’t help but wish him all the awards he may or may not be trying to get. If it were some other famous old guy in the role, like Robert Duvall or John Voight or something, it would only be half as good of a movie.
-And even transcending Bill Murray the actor, his *character* of Vincent was a very well-developed, complex guy. The story provided enough backstory to not make it simply just a story of an old grumpy guy warming up to an innocent kid. That’s been done before on a pure surface level, and it’s not as good. I appreciated all the little touches.
-Melissa McCarthy can be a very good actress when she’s not dancing in a parking lot with a fast food bag on her head.
-Chris O’Dowd is one of those guys who does the same schtick every movie, but it’s an enjoyable schtick, so I don’t mind. I’m not the kind of fan who grows tired of seeing things I like (see: Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, etc), and that’s probably why I like more movies/TV shows than I hate.
-My only criteria for enjoying a child actor is that I don’t want to shove him into the ground the whole movie, and the kid in St. Vincent was perfectly fine. I wasn’t exactly impressed, but then again I rarely am by Hollywood kids. Not being annoyed by him is about the best compliment I can give in this department.
-I didn’t really feel like the sassy stripper character herself brought much to the movie to begin with, but then multiply that by an awful Russian accent and it really brought things down for me. I don’t care if that’s how an actual Russian accent sounds, I will never *not* think it sounds horrible in a movie. And Naomi Watts did it so absurdly cartoonish that all I heard the whole time was “MOOSE AND SQUIRREL. MOOSE AND SQUIRREL”. I thought it was a good script to begin with, and then the guy who wrote it decided he needed to ham it up to typical indie comedy levels and add this obnoxious cliché.
-The only other negative I can really say is that the whole thing was fairly predictable. That’s kind of to be expected as well for this genre of movies, but that doesn’t make it any less adverse.
Final Thoughts: I don’t know, it’s an enjoyable movie, there’s no denying that. That’s the best word for it. Enjoyable. It’s not mind-blowing, it hasn’t changed the game in any way, but (aside from Naomi Watts’ character) it’s just an example of a movie that had most of its pieces fall into the right places. It’s what other heartwarming indie comedies hope and strive to be. It was nearly perfectly executed for what it was, but what it was was just a pleasantly enjoyable little film. And because of that, I almost feel like I have a maximum score I’m willing to give it.
8.5 out of 10