Movie Review: ‘St. Vincent’ A More Charming Version of ‘Gran Torino’

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Cole Clay // Critic

our rating: ☆☆½

our rating: ☆☆½

ST. VINCENT has Bill Murray back in his comedic form. However, while the Theodore Melfi-directed comedy has loads of tickling moments, it relies all too heavily on sentimentality – a tactic that can be dangerous with a heart-on-sleeve type film.

Murray is Vincent, a misanthropic Vietnam vet who gambles, boozes and whores around his Brooklyn borough with the help of a local prostitute named Daka, played by a very pink and adorable Naomi Watts. This is until he becomes an unlikely caregiver for a single mother’s (Melissa McCarthy) son named Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher).

What comes next is obvious– Oliver and Vincent form an unlikely bond that will teach them a lesson they couldn’t have otherwise learned. ST. VINCENT commits to its convictions as a sappy story that strives to manipulate your emotions, but unlike other films from this cloth, Melfi does it with extra charm.

Bill Murray gives his best impression of GRAN TORINO in ST. VINCENT. Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

Bill Murray gives his best impression of GRAN TORINO in ST. VINCENT. Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

Vincent is a man who wears many hats, and we discover these hidden aspects of the curmudgeon’s life as his story is unpacked. To the film’s detriment, it borders on being a divisive piece of indie fare that hits all the necessary beats, and doesn’t let the characters truly just exist in the colorful setting. It also helps that McCarthy drops the “zero to b*tch” schtick in favor of a more compassionate role.

Once the broad comedy wears thin, ST. VINCENT compensates this by characters that are easy to love, and frankly, that warmness becomes contagious.

ST. VINCENT opens in theaters tomorrow.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.