Saturday movie review: St. Vincent

I have to be honest: I avoided seeing the comedy ST. VINCENT in the theater and refrained from adding it to my Netflix queue because it stars Melissa McCarthy. Now, I adore Ms. McCarthy, but I've grown weary of her recent roles, the ones where she's tough, wacky, and trash-talking yet sympathetic and sweet at her core. The act was funny the first time around, but she's so much better than that.

St. Vincent film

Then I started seeing numerous positive reviews and could no longer resist watching. So I added ST. VINCENT to my Netflix queue and hoped for the best. An email from one of my favorite fellow grandmas a week ago recommending the film—on the very day it was scheduled to arrive in my mailbox—confirmed I'd made the right choice.

Right choice, indeed! ST. VINCENT is funny and moving, with nary a glimpse of the TAMMY sort of Melissa McCarthy throughout.

Of course, Bill Murray is the star of ST. VINCENT, along with Jaeden Lieberher, a fabulous newcomer. Murray plays Vincent, a hard-drinking, oft-gambling Vietnam vet. Lieberher plays twelve-year-old Oliver, a youngster who along with his recently divorced mom, Maggie (McCarthy), move next door to cranky, crabby Vincent. Single-mom McCarthy—who shines in the role and is everything I love most about her—needs a babysitter for Oliver and much to his dismay (and need for cash), Vincent ends up taking the job.

Oliver sees goodness in Vincent that no one else does, and the two become fast friends. The unlikely friendship surprises everyone, from Maggie to Daka, Vincent's Russian pregnant stripper/prostitute girlfriend (played by Naomi Watts) to Brother Geraghty, Oliver's teacher (played by Chris O'Dowd—who always warms my heart and makes me chuckle even without saying a word).


ST. VINCENT is sweet yet far from syrupy. Bill Murray is fabulous as the jerk of a neighbor—who ultimately does have a heart of gold... in more ways than one. Melissa McCarthy sparkles, Jaeden Lieberher makes me smile (he surely has a long career ahead of him).

The film is written and directed by first-time director/screenwriter Ted Melfi. Production notes on the film provide an interesting background on Melfi's inspiration for ST. VINCENT:

The roots of the story of ST. VINCENT were inspired by a life-altering moment in writer/director/producer Ted Melfi’s own life. When his older brother passed away at the age of thirty-eight seven years ago, he went to the funeral and realized his eleven year-old niece had nowhere to go. Melfi and his wife quickly decided to adopt her and move her from a small, rural town in Tennessee to where they lived in Sherman Oaks, California.

Once enrolled in Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Melfi’s niece received a homework assignment with the following prompt: Find the Catholic saint that inspires you, and find someone in your real life that mimics the qualities of that saint. She picked St. William of Rochester, who is the Patron Saint of Adopted Children, and selected Melfi as the match. A very moved Melfi realized that it was the perfect idea for a movie. Instead of characters like himself and his niece though, he wanted to use an old curmudgeonly guy who’d lost his will to live and a young boy. Bill Murray seemed to be perfect for the role.

Murray is indeed perfect, as are the other actors. And the story. And the film.

Murray, Melfi and the rest of the cast take turns talking about ST. VINCENT:

ST. VINCENT (rated PG-13 for "mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language") was released in theaters last year and is now available on DVD, Bluray, and streaming. Find out more by checking out the film's official website and Facebook page.