St. Vincent

St. Vincent (2014)
Dir. Theodore Melfi

This is an illustration of the phrase ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ but sadly from the wrong side, despite having cast and elements that surely should add up to something great, they just don’t.

A single mother (Melissa McCarthy) and her young son move in next door to a grumpy elderly man (Bill Murray) but necessity and circumstance cause a friendship to form, with the boy discovering hidden depths to his new neighbour.

While not terrible, it’s not the greatest of praise to just be able to describe a film as ‘pretty good’ but I struggle to elevate it beyond that. Firstly it should be noted that it’s not ‘usual’ Bill Murray humour, nor Melissa McCarthy’s, so if you’re expecting them in their most familiar comedic forms then you are almost certainly headed for disappointment. That being said, it’s often in the different, more toned-down roles in which many comedic actors do their best work, just look at Steve Carrell or Jim Carrey for proof of this.

The story itself is quite good, there’s no huge peril or drama rather a more a simple story of unlikely friendship and learning to see the hidden qualities in people. The film does a very good job of handling that, I got the point and it made it enjoyable enough to watch. It even proved effective when the sentiment level was turned right up, I must be honest and admit I had a tear in my eye at one point.

Naomi Watts is really not at her best and portrays an odd character who is maybe meant to be endearingly strange but has the worst eastern European accent that just jars and prevented me from liking her much at all. Somehow she got nominated for a screen actors guild award for the role but really this was so far from deserved, it’s not completely her fault though I expect the accent was. She’s far better in ‘Birdman‘ than this so why it was this role that got her the nomination I can’t quite understand. Chris O’Dowd has a far better character and he’s very funny (though again not quite his usual comedic stylings), though do generally I find him one of the best bits of many of the things he’s been in so maybe much of my feelings on his role are down to my goodwill towards him.

I love how the poster (below) says that the New York Post thought Murray would not be forgotten when the Oscars came round, though ultimately he was, or more importantly the whole film was. It didn’t trouble the Oscars or BAFTAs but did manage two nominations at the Golden Globes, neither of which it won. That’s not to suggest it’s terrible, it’s far from terrible and was perfectly enjoyable while watching it, but I neither have much of it lingering in my memory nor the desire to watch it again to refresh my memory. Small aspects do come to mind, the performances by such good actors are capable but in no ways their best, it’s really not the ‘year’s most outrageous comedy’ as the poster states but it is funny and still managed to be surprisingly touching as intended though ultimately the feeling will pass as will much memory of it all.

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