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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.