Wasn’t it Pascal who said that life is a comedy with a bloody finish? St. Vincent is a comedy with a bloody awful finish, boasting one of cinema’s greatest slouches, Bill Murray.
Employing a lazy Brooklyn accent, Murray plays Vincent, dressed in a wadded pair of gray camouflage cargo shorts and a souvenir shirt from a clam place in Sheepshead Bay. He rejoices in the motto “Ya work, ya get paid, ya drink.” Just as Ben Affleck was given a tom cat to wrangle to show that he cared about stuff in Gone Girl, the shiftless Vincent tends one of those grumpy cats (a white Persian, like the one Blofeld used to stroke). Murray’s Vincent deals with the problems of the day—the bourbon running out, the bank account going dry, the fillies giving him a bad time at Belmont Park.
But then a new neighbor arrives, Oliver, a boy who needs tending (he’s played as an overly polite little man by Jaeden Lieberher). He’s the son of an overworked mom (Melissa McCarthy, demonstrating her talents as a comedy straight woman.) And hanging around is the hardworking Naomi Watts, clearly enjoying herself as the pregnant Russian pole-dancer Vince hires for companionship.
As I’ve said before, Murray is the only man over 60 that anyone under 25 reveres. Murray is respected for his nay-saying and complaint in the same way Bogart was 40 years ago. St. Vincent gives you a handsome portion of this naturally funny performer, never letting his disgust at the world waver. If this film gets Murray a body-of-work Oscar, fair enough. Be warned, though, that this paragon of slack will get the full 24K gold heart transplant. St. Vincent is like what Frank Capra would do if he adapted a Bukowski book: it gets a funny Irish priest (Chris O’Dowd), a sweet old lady with Alzheimer’s, a stirring tale of war heroism, and a hooker turned mommy.
‘St. Vincent’ opens Friday in wide release.