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ST. VINCENT - ** (103 minutes)



Tuesday October 2, 2014

Lord, we've seen this plot before:  curmudgeon (Bill Murray) meets sweet innocent little boy (Jaeden Lieberher) who attempts to transform curmudgeon into a likable human being.  Jack Nicholson is the staple of this franchise.  (At the premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Bill Murray was asked how he got the role and replied it was because Jack was unavailable.) 

That being said, my expectations of seeing Murray perform his usually excellent acting chops was through the roof; but, alas, Murray and the talented cast couldn't overcome the lame predictable script by first time writer/director Theodore Melfi.

The film begins with Murray reciting an old joke (even that one is recycled) on a black screen that opens with him sloshing several cocktails at his local Brooklyn watering hole.   He proceeds to back his 1983 Chrysler Le Baron convertible (one of the most memorable characters in the film) into his picket fence followed by a kitchen mishap that results in a bashed-in face.  The next morning he "meets" his new next door neighbor Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her 12-year-old son, Oliver, when her moving van causes a tree branch to land on said convertible.  A relationship is made that eventually places the grumpy Murray as mentor and babysitter to Oliver while mom is working double shifts at a local hospital to earn enough money to fight a custody battle with her separated husband. 

The supporting talent tries their best to propel the script including McCarthy, who plays it straight and tones down her usually outrageous comedic persona exhibited in previous roles such as Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Tammy.  Chris O'Dowd has a competent minor role as Father Geraghty, a hip teacher at Oliver's Catholic school, while Terence Howard has a few brief scenes as a loan shark trying to collect a debt from the nearly penniless Murray.  However, Naomi Watts, sporting a Russian accent, seems miscast as a pregnant hooker with a heart who services Murray throughout the movie.

Melfi, who got his start directing commercials, fills his script with predictable set pieces and supporting characters that, by the time the inevitable syrupy climax rears its head, you'd wish you would have waited and paid for the rental instead of first-run money.

St. Vincent opens nationwide on October 24.

UPCOMING:  Michael Keaton's latest comedy "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" by acclaimed Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Vincent (Bill Murray) and Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) out on 
the town

(l to r) Maggie (Mellissa McCarthy), Oliver, and Daka (Naomi
Watts)