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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » December 30, 2014
Film review
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St. Vincent
December 30, 2014   
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When the movie theater near you starts screening sentimental, feel-good comedies for the whole family, you can tell Christmas is around the corner. Instead of watching gallons of fake blood, heads bashed open and people shooting each other, you can laugh your head off, perhaps shed a tear and then leave the theater in a better mood. Never mind that what you saw is easily forgettable. In productions like these, a lot depends on the cast and actors who do their job well can turn even the most cliché-ridden script into a delightful viewing experience. With well-written dialogues and situational humor added to the mix, nothing could possibly go wrong.

One of the newest instant hits of this kind is St. Vincent, written and directed by Theodore Melfi, who was until now better known for his short films. The chief asset of St. Vincent is Hollywood’s veteran comedian Bill Murray (Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation), who plays a bitter, misanthropic Vietnam war veteran called Vincent. When a mother and a son move in next door, Vincent somewhat reluctantly finds himself become the unlikely best friend of the 11-year-old boy, Oliver. The mother (Melissa McCarthy—Bridesmaids, The Heat, Identity Thief) works 15 hours a day and asks Vincent to baby-sit for Oliver, a job offer the old man accepts largely due to gambling debts. His new role becomes a fascinating and life-changing experience for both Vincent and the boy, even though Vincent does not exactly change his ways. He goes on drinking like a fish and seeing a Russian prostitute (Naomi Watts—Mulholland Drive, King Kong, Diana) who is pregnant, probably with his child. He also continues to bet on horses, hence his debts, and the only creature he seems to have any human feelings for is his cat. But when an unadjusted adult meets a kid who is about just as unadjusted, a change is bound to take place. Here is where St. Vincent is slightly reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino from 2009. The main character in the Eastwood movie was a Korean war veteran who overcame his bias against his new Asian neighbors. But while Gran Torino was more of a drama with a hardly happy ending, St. Vincent will make you laugh hard at the awkward beginnings of the friendship between a 11-year-old kid and a grownup man and the latter’s anti-social attitude.

Murray is one of very few actors who know how to use sarcasm and downright crass behavior to express disdain for other people and yet remain a likable character. You can guess right from the start that Vincent is a sympathetic human being after all, as shown by the scene in which he comes to a nursing home to visit his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife. If you like touching moments in a comedy, you surely won’t be disappointed.

Predictably, St. Vincent has become a respectable hit since release, raking in three times more than it cost to make. With a modest—by Hollywood standards—budget of $13 million, the movie has so far managed over $41 million at the box office.
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