COURTESY ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA/THE WEINSTEIN COMPANYJaeden Lieberher

COURTESY ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA/THE WEINSTEIN COMPANYJaeden Lieberher

Bill Murray makes ‘St. Vincent’ real

Bill Murray, star of “St. Vincent,” once was under consideration as the lead in Terry Zwigoff's “Bad Santa.” It would have required him to play a drunken curmudgeon who is somewhat reformed by a nerdy, kindly child.

Now, in “St. Vincent,” he at last has the role. He plays Vietnam War veteran Vincent, whose expenses include booze; a pregnant, Russian prostitute, Daka (Naomi Watts); and fancy cat food for his squash-faced feline.

He lives in Brooklyn off of a reverse mortgage, which recently has run out. At the same time, newly divorced nurse Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her sweet, but scrawny son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door.

With Maggie busy at work and Oliver picked on by bullies, Vin agrees to look after the kid for an hourly wage.

The movie adds, but forgets about, Terrence Howard as a debt collector on Vin's trail. The usual stuff follows, with Vin taking Oliver to the racetrack and to a bar, and teaching him how to fight the school bully. Oliver, on the other hand, teaches Vin that caring about someone isn't so bad. Several montages help spell things out.

This formula has become a staple, and honestly, if Murray wasn’t the lead, the movie wouldn’t be worth much.

Murray is put to perfect use. His jerky behavior is not based on anger, but on a kind of freedom, and he’s quite appealing. Newcomer Lieberher makes a good, unflappable partner, and a nice foil for the master comedian.

Writer-director Theodore Melfi, in his first big movie, introduces the welcome theme of sainthood. Oliver's Catholic school teacher (Chris O'Dowd, very funny) asks his students to find a modern-day one. Very few would argue that Murray's Vincent doesn't qualify.

A decade ago, instead of taking “Bad Santa,” Murray made “Lost in Translation” and earned one of history's few Oscar nominations for a comic actor. Now, because the Oscar voters like accents and diseases (Vincent has a Brooklyn accent and recovers from a stroke), he's getting buzz about a possible second nomination.

Thankfully, Vin or Murray – (or it is both)? – does not seem to care about such things. As the movie ends, he takes to his lawn chair, caterwauling a Bob Dylan tune and spraying everything in sight, even his own slippers, with his garden hose. For a saint, this, not any award, could be the secret to true happiness.

REVIEW

St. Vincent

three stars

Starring: Bill Murray, Jaeden Lieberher, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts

Written and directed by: Theodore Melfi

Rated PG-13

Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes

artsBill MurrayMoviesst. vincentTheodore Melfi

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read