Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Jaeden Lieberher in a film directed by Ted Melfi.
Vincent (Murray) is a broke, drunken, gambling war veteran retiree who finds himself recruited by his new in-over-her-head, single-mom neighbor, Maggie (McCarthy), to watch over her small yet mature 12-year-old son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher).
I’ll be honest, I don’t follow Bill Murray, the meme, the way most people do. At some point, he became a hipster hero for both his choice in film roles and his offscreen antics–like wedding crashing.
For this reason, many of my fellow reviewers found this movie hard to take seriously; for the meme has officially become bigger than Bill Murray, the man.
I get it and, though I’ve never thought much of the meme, I like Murray the actor but this movie on its own merit doesn’t do enough to wrap you into its story.
Murray’s Vincent is a degenerate who gambles all his money, drinks profusely and sleeps with a pregnant Russian prostitute named Daka (Watts). Why anyone would even consider leaving their child alone with this man is beyond me but the script necessitates it so you go along for the ride.
Vincent’s neighbor Maggie has been hurt by her previous marriage and stuck in a rut of trying to go out on her own: both working as a nurse and taking care of her son Arthur. McCarthy is at her most restrained and, when given the few opportunities she’s given, is charming. As for Oliver (played by relative newcomer Jaeden Lieberher), he’s every young, too smart for their own good child in an indie comedy. He’s serviceable and is enjoyable to watch
The film falls into every trap imaginable for a comedy about a mean old man with a secret hard of gold and the precocious child he befriends. There’s a more interesting movie inside this one however, and it concerns mortality.
At some point in the film, I became keenly aware that Bill Murray would indeed die someday; as will I, as will you. The young goofball and wiseacre from “Saturday Night Live” is long gone and his meme-ification does not serve as a life preserver. This is both the most tragic and effective portion of the film and it’s primarily because it’s Bill Murray that we’re watching this happen to.
Before that day comes, I hope to continue seeing Murray in a lot of much better films than this. Seeing him play such a character in this kind of film, you can’t help but think that he’s beginning on the road towards dealing with this fate. I don’t know how he feels about the meme version of himself, I’d have to believe it’s a positive. It’s the closest thing to living forever.
St. Vincent opens today in select theaters.