Verdict: 3 / 5
The racket of a large tree branch crashing onto his busted car forces a hung over Vincent MacKenna (Bill Murray) to emerge from his slumber. In an ogre like manner, he approaches the culprits of this unwelcomed disturbance. The moving truck of new neighbours, Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and Oliver Bronstein (Jaeden Lieberher), have reversed onto his old picket fence. Maggie rushes over to assess the trouble only to realize that her new neighbour is to put it mildly – unpleasant. A terrible introduction.
Olivers new classmates play a cruel trick on him, by stealing his wallet, phone, and house keys. Unable to get into his house, Oliver seeks shelter at Vincent’s. Vincent sees this as an easy money making opportunity by offering to ‘babysit’ Oliver on days Maggie has to work late. Desperate Maggie agrees only because Oliver seems to take liking in the hostile former veteran.
Soon the two are thick as thieves, Vincent teaches Oliver about self-defense, gambling, and other unsavory nightlife activities. But he also shows him, his true self, a man deeply in love with his wife, Sandy (Donna Mitchell). Sandy has Alzheimer’s, and as such doesn’t remember Vincent as her husband. He dresses up as her doctor and personally does her laundry every week. He regularly visits her lavish nursing home, which is a complete contrast to his living conditions.
Unfortunately, it is very costly and Vincent’s bad habits have him deep in debt with some dangerous people. Meanwhile, he passes the time with Daka (Naomi Watts), a pregnant Russian ‘lady of the night’ – as he explains it to Oliver.
Knowing the basic plot of grumpy man, and a sweet boy who bring out the best in each other, it isn’t a spoiler to say it has a happy ending. It’s because of the boys acceptance and faith in the grinch that the audience takes a liking in him too, and roots for him to save the day. Caring for someone is a beautiful form of selflessness, and this story shows it in many ways, through the various character interactions and relationships. Another example of how good acting and the overall visual aspects of the location, set, wardrobe etc. all work together as an ensemble that make it look effortless and realistic.
St. Vincent is an easy choice if the ‘UP’ plot line appeals to you or if you prefer the more scallywag approach, like ‘Gran Torino’ or even ‘Mud’.