Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Movie Review: ‘St. Vincent’

MOVIE PILOT Bill Murray triumphs in his lead role alongside the young Jaeden Lieberher in the absurd yet moving new movie “St Vincent.”
Bill Murray triumphs in his lead role alongside the young Jaeden Lieberher in the absurd yet moving new movie “St Vincent.”


What do you get when you cross a newly divorced mother, a drunken Vietnam War veteran, an innocent 11-year-old and a Russian prostitute? Something like the dramatic-comedy movie “St. Vincent,” the feature film debut of director Ted Melfi.

Starring Melissa McCarthy and Bill Murray, this movie is a definite crowd-pleaser with its mixture of classic slapstick comedy and absurd moments that leave the audience laughing, crying and all-around happy.

The plot involves divorced mother Maggie (McCarthy), who moves into a Brooklyn suburb with her young son, taking a new job at the hospital with very late hours. Her son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) must take public transportation to and from school, in addition to facing the problems of being the “new kid” and dealing with bullies. His school requires a religion class, where students discuss the personal meaning of a saint to them, leading Oliver to question whether anyone plays this role in his life.

He befriends the grumpy, elderly neighbor Vincent (Murray), a Vietnam War veteran, who has a knack for drinking, smoking and gambling at the racetrack. Vincent “babysits” Oliver after school, initially to Vincent’s dismay, but the two take a liking to one another. Vincent teaches him the ways of the world, from self-defense to playing one’s cards right.

The central conflicts come upon the audience all at once: First, Oliver’s father wants full custody of his son, and Daka, Vincent’s prostitute friend, is pregnant. The characters all form a special bond due to their overlapping conflicts. The mix of realistic dramatic events with hilarious comedic acts creates a blend of funny and serious that will have viewers laughing while on the edge of their seats.

Oliver’s character pulls at your heartstrings and comedian McCarthy throws in a few good jokes as well. However, it was refreshing to see both McCarthy and Murray in dramatic roles, which definitely upheld the high standards that the audience expected from them.

As much as the acting holds the audience’s attention, several parts of the storyline are rather cliche. Vincent’s elderly wife is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s and cannot remember her husband. He visits her often, does her laundry and admits that her mental illness is the ultimate source of his unhappiness (seeming a bit “Notebook”-esque). Another recurring cliche in the plot is Oliver’s inability to deal with his bullies.

Writer, director and producer Ted Melfi hosted a question-and-answer session with viewers after the D.C. screening, where he described the film as a “blending of two true stories in [his] life,” that of adopting his brother’s daughter when his brother passed away, which provided the inspiration behind Oliver’s character, and the other concerning his father-in-law, the inspiration behind Vincent’s character. The application of stories from his real life was so inspiring that he wrote the script in a mere five weeks. Melfi made commercials and short films for years before finally venturing into the world of feature films, but once he began with “St. Vincent,” he knew he had a success on his hands.

The process of finding the perfect actors to portray was the bigger challenge: Melfi knew Murray would make an ideal Vincent, and he finally found actor Jaeden Lieberher in a Hyundai commercial after auditioning hundreds of other actors for the role of Oliver. The on-screen relationship portrayed between Vincent and Oliver has also budded in real life, and the pair plans on starring in a movie together again in the future.

Melfi described the final takeaway of the film to be “value”— everyone has it, even if they do not know what it is.

“Value gets chipped away as life hits you,” Melfi said.

This is evident among several characters in the movie: the young boy getting bullied, the middle-class divorced mother, the pregnant prostitute and the drunk war veteran. The wide array of characters is what makes this film so unique; it is a good mix of movie cliches with new twists that artistically combine quirky comedy and intense drama, making it a heartwarming film that is highly recommended.

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