“St. Vincent” doesn’t work without Bill Murray.
The film, which centers around a crotchety old drunk gambler who takes care of his neighbor’s son to pay off gambling debts, could have been made with any number of other actors.
However, it’s only “Saturday Night Live” vet Murray who can handle the humor required to make the majority of the film enjoyable enough to balance the weighty drama underneath the comedic exterior of the film.
Dual-billed alongside slapstick comedienne Melissa McCarthy, Murray single-handedly carries “St. Vincent” in large segments of the film and offers the necessary nonchalant attitude required of Vincent in setting up the film’s most dramatic scenes.
McCarthy is nearly an after-thought in the film, overshadowed not only by Murray’s tremendous performance, but also by a heart-warming effort from newcomer Jaeden Lieberher as Murray’s young ward and an unrecognizable Naomi Watts as a pregnant Russian stripper.
Heartwarming and affable, “St. Vincent” can be considered somewhat of a comedic partner to the darker and more successful “Gran Torino,” a Clint Eastwood tour de force, without the weighty racial and political undertones.
While a large portion of the film deals with modern-day saints, “St. Vincent” is not overtly religious in nature, but finds the most in its flawed characters.