Today I saw St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy.
Maggie (McCarthy) is a single mother enduring an ugly divorce, who is determined to provide a good life to her young son, Oliver (Jaeden Leiberher).
Vin (Murray) is the drunken next-door neighbor who they meet after their moving truck smashes into his tree, damaging his car and fence. Understandably, he's less than pleased.
Though they get off on the wrong foot, Vin soon becomes Oliver's babysitter by default and an odd, if not sweet, bond begins to form between the two after-school friends.
Though at first Vin seems like a very one-dimensional loser, we quickly learn there's more to him than meets the eye: He's unimaginably kind to the prostitute (played by Naomi Watts, sporting a Russian accent) he patronizes regularly; he makes sure his wife in the nursing home is treated with the best care possible and he treats his fluffy white cat, Felix, like royalty.
Children are typically good judges of character and Oliver is no exception. Though he deems Vin as "grouchy", there is something about him that he admits is redeeming.
The first half of the film is very much like About a Boy, with Vin playing hero to Oliver when he's bullied, etc., but then the second half takes a darker turn.
McCarthy's performance as a woman scorned is fantastic—it's actually nice to see her play it straight in this movie, instead of her usual comedic self. She's very raw and convincing as a woman trying to keep it together as her world is crumbling around her.
Murray is predictably phenomenal as well, playing both the dramatic and comedic parts with equal swagger. He's just a master, that's all.
And newcomer, Lieberher doesn't fall prey to the typical annoying kid acting traps. He is wise, but not mature and smart but not precocious. Delightful at any angle.
The only major flaw this film has is its formulaic script. Though there are a few small twists that you may not see coming, the end result is pretty obvious from the time the opening credits roll.
But sometimes, that's okay.