There are movies and documentary films that are easy to review but St. Vincent isn’t one of them. This movie is has more ups and downs than an moody adolescent, and Bill Murray is no angel throughout the film. Despite that, the story is heartwarming and comedic and sad, and well worth seeing.
The casting in the film is brilliant. Perennial funny girl, Melissa McCarthy, gets to play a wounded newly-divorced single mother while the usually-serious Naomi Watts plays a hysterically funny pregnant hooker. In the title role, Bill Murray is everything from gritty to compassionate, from rude to kind, and still his trademark dry humor lights up the movie.
The show-stealing role in the film is Jaeden Lieberher as young Oliver. Lieberher beat out thousands of other boys for the role, and he’s the character who keeps the story moving. Oliver is the vehicle for the viewer to see the the compassionate hero buried under the hot mess who is Vincent (Bill Murray). Lieberher aces his role as a too-small pre-teen who moves to a new city with Maggie (McCarthy), a woman who is struggling to juggle single parenting and work.
Maggie moves in and immediately hires Vincent, her rude drunken neighbor, as Oliver’s after-school babysitter. Vincent teaches Oliver many more lessons than his mother would like him to know, dragging him along to places like a nursing home and a bar. While the Vincent-Oliver duo works wonderfully well for the story, most parents will likely be sitting in the audience wondering the same thing:
Why would this mother trust her child into the care of a drunken slob neighbor she barely knows?
As the film progresses, the cast forms a hysterically funny dysfunctional “family” unit, but that initial question of “why in the world would Maggie initially choose Vincent as Oliver’s babysitter” is never answered.
What is answered is that Vincent and Oliver are good for one another. The film clearly shows the love between the two of them. It also shows that heroism is achieved through every acts of kindness. Although Bill Murray is more of an archangel in St. Vincent, he is compassionate and real and heroic to the boy whose life he shapes. This is a story worth seeing.
Characters and cast of St. Vincent include:
Vincent – Bill Murray (Olive Kitteridge, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Monuments Men, Alpha House, Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Get Low, The Darjeeling Limited, Broken Flowers, Lost in Translation, Rushmore, Wild Things, The Royal Tenenbaums, Groundhog Day, The Razor’s Edge, Caddyshack)
Maggie – Melissa McCarthy (Tammy, Mike & Molly, The Heat, The Hangover Part III, Identity Thief, Bridesmaids)
Duka – Naomi Watts (King Kong, Muholland Drive, The Ring, The Impossible, Birdman, Eastern Promises, The Painted Veil)
Brother Geraghty – Chris O’Dowd (Calvary, Thor: The Darkworld, Bridesmaids, Girls)
Zucko – Terrence Howard (The Best Man Holiday, Red Tails, The Ledge, Iron Man, Ray, Hustle & Flow, Pride)
Oliver – Jaeden Lieberher
Shirley – Ann Dowd (Masters of Sex, The Leftovers, The Drop, Olive Kitteridge, True Detective, Compliance, Garden State)