Complete A-Z list

St Vincent


Stars: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Chris O'Dowd, Terrence Howard, Kimberley Quinn, Nate Corddry

Director: Theodore Melfi

A comedy-drama about a grumpy old man (Murray) that gets the balance between laughter and tears just about right for 90 minutes, before lapsing into too much sentiment for the comfort of the leading character (and us) in the last reel.

Murray plays a curmudgeonly, dishevelled old soul, Vincent, who we meet driving home drunk, smashing down his fence, then knocking himself out on a kitchen cupboard door - fortunately not before he has fed his white Persian cat Felix, who looks even grumpier than his owner.

But Vincent who owes money to loan shark Zucko (a nothing role for Howard) and gambles unsuccessfully on the ponies, is in luck. Her new neighbours, Maggie (a welcomely-subdued McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Lieberher) must cough up compensation after their removal van takes off part of his tree (he throws in the fence for good measure).

Somehow, Vincent finds himself agreeing to babysit Oliver - admittedly at a hard-fought 12 dollars an hour - while Maggie works, often late, at the local hospital. He takes the weedy little kid to the racetrack and local bar and toughens him to the extent that he breaks the nose of the school bully (Dario Barosso), who consequently becomes Oliver's best friend.

In between looking after Oliver and dodging Zucko's goons, Vincent visits his wife in a sanatorium, where she suffers from Alzheimer's Here, too, he owes money...

This is a prime role for Murray - who shrugs off the old advice of never acting with animals or children - and he milks it to the full without ever overplaying. When his once-a-week pregnant hooker (Watts with a decent Russian accent) tells him her water has broken, his laconic reply, without looking up, is 'Call a plumber'.

Incidentally, keep your eyes firmly on the screen and you'll see that the film seems to have trouble deciding which side of Vincent's house Maggie and Oliver actually live.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Entertainment (Weinstein Co). Technicolor.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 02 Dec 2014