I will concede that the basic plot line of the new movie, "St. Vincent", written and directed by Theodore Melfi, is not exactly a new one.
Take one cranky old curmudgeon of a neighbor, mix in a put upon single mother with a cute kid. Could be the "Bad News Bears", could be "Paper Moon", could be a half dozen others if I decided to think any longer about it, but, please, don't let that keep you away from seeing "St. Vincent".
What makes this one special is the performance of Bill Murray as the title character, Vincent. Vin smokes too much, drinks too much, has a regular "date" with a pregnant stripper/hooker (Naomi Watts), and has no use for his new neighbors, a single mother and her nine year old son, played my Melissa McCarthy and Jaeden Lieberher. However, through a series of circumstances that can happen only in the movies, I suppose, Vin ends up being Oliver's (Lieberher) babysitter.
Of course, Vin takes the kid to the race track, to a neighborhood bar, teaches him how to fight, introduces him to Watts, who he tells Oliver is a lady of the night, which he explains is "the most honest way there is to make a living". Oliver also gets to see another side to Vin, a side which no one else knows about, and which shows us that there may just be another side to Vincent. Not that he will ever admit it.
The cast is great...Watts, McCarthy, and the little boy played by Lieberher, but Murray is absolutely terrific.
The role of Vincent is the kind of role that Hollywood will give to an actor who has been around for a long time, and will often times reward that actor with an Academy Award for it. We are just getting into the season when the really Big and Important Movies, are being released, so who knows if Murray's performance will end up being Oscar-worthy, but it would sure be nice to see him get a Best Actor Oscar nomination at least.
Consider Bill Murray. It has been close to forty years since he came on the national scene as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live. His first big, and still most famous movie role was that of Carl Spackler in "Caddyshack" and it will probably remain the role for which he will most remembered. However, IMDB lists seventy-five acting credits for Bill Murray, which includes "Lost in Translation" (2003) for which he received an Oscar nomination, and "Hyde Park on Hudson" (2012) where he played President Franklin Roosevelt, and for which he probably should have received another Oscar nomination.
Would you have ever envisioned that back in the 1975 when you watching Murray as Todd de la Bounta or the sleazy lounge singer on SNL?
And if you do want to see a glimpse of Murray's comic genius, be sure to watch the closing credits of "St. Vincent", wherein Murray wrestles with a garden hose while singing "Shelter from the Storm" along with Bob Dylan on his Walkman. I am guessing that that piece of shtick was completely improvised by Murray, and it was brilliant.
So, see "St. Vincent". You'll laugh a lot at it, but you'll also need a handkerchief, because it will also bring you to tears. It had both Marilyn and I opening up the waterworks.