Cinema review: St Vincent

A BILL Murray movie is always time for celebration. Certainly one of the most beloved actors of all time, when he has a movie out you always have to see it - and he has been on an decent run lately, mainly thanks to his collaborations with Wes Anderson.

However if you exclude his work with Anderson, Murray’s last three films (The Monuments Men, Hyde Park On Hudson, and Charles Swan ) were not exactly his finest. Still, in the last decade and a bit he HAs given us some of his best work, like Lost In Translation and Broken Flowers, and it is not like he has been anything other than incredibly charming and watchable even in his rubbish films.

So with St Vincent, and a strong supporting cast of Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, and Naomi Watts, how could this go wrong? Well, sadly, plenty.

Murray plays the titular Vincent, a hard nosed army veteran living in Brooklyn. He is a down on his luck curmudgeon who ticks all the cliché sympathy boxes. In the first 30 minutes we see him harassed by a bookie he owes money to, refused service at his local bar, and told by a bank clerk he Is broke.

It is not long before into his life and garden come new neighbours recently divorced nurse Maggie and her 10-year-old son Oliver. With money being low for Vincent he agrees to babysit Oliver after school. Slowly but surely (stop me if you heard this one before ) Oliver eventually cracks Vincent’s rough and tough exterior and discovers beneath the drinking and gambling there is a sweet old man inside. Vom!

Perhaps I am being a little unfair as I did laugh several times throughout the film, but from About a Boy to Liam Neeson’s storyline in Love Actually this kind of storyline is pretty hackneyed at this stage. Even Murray himself has been in very similar movies - Wes Anderson’s brilliant Rushmore (1998 ) and Lost in Translation.

The draw here is Murray and the rest of the cast, they do a good job with a pretty tired formula. The debut director, Theodore Melfi, does adequate if unremarkable work. He has a tendency to overuse montages with uninspiring music choices - a trope which is a real pet peeve of mine. In fact it feels Wes Anderson-lite.

There is no charm here aside from Murray’s and O’Dowd’s natural personalities but that has nothing to do with the film, they are just great actors and watching them is always a joy. Naomi Watts struggles with her accent again… if you thought her Princess Diana accent in the hilariously bad Diana earlier this year was bad wait until you see her take on a pregnant Russian prostitute in this.

If you are in the mood for something sentimental with great actors this Christmas I would certainly recommend it, but there are great movies out this time of year this is one you’d be just as well seeing on TV in a few months time. Or better, get a copy of Rushmore.

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