25 October 2014 | RyanCShowers
A Sweet, Lovable Film
BY RYAN C. SHOWERS
If you have seen the trailers for "St. Vincent", you probably think avoiding it at all costs is the best option with the film's release. The judgmental thoughts I had with the previews were: recycled storyline, serious actors taking "lesser" roles, and award season junk. But that really wonderful thing happened to me while watching "St. Vincent" where all my preconceived notions dissolve and the film revealed proffers an sweepingly enjoyable time at the movies. It looks like every area of the film could be a disaster, but mostly everything in the new comedy moves fluidly.
Three or four times, "St. Vincent" really stumbles, completely misfiring an already risky move. The first of these blunders is when Vincent fights a group of punks bullying Oliver in an alley-- even the trite set-up of the scene sounds like its asking for criticism. The whole screenplay has a sense of predictability, but director Theodore Melfi makes your see past the stale clichés and reminds you why audiences were so moved by these overused plot devices for years and years. (Melfi's directing is well completed, shooting and editing the film adequately.) Accepting the screenplay's banal set-up will allow you to see the acutely written dialogue in "St. Vincent". The film's climatic pay-off is the best example of vigorously written, directed, and acted dialogue through a speech recited by Oliver.
A selling point for any comedy could be the ability to make the viewer really laugh. Not giggle, not smile from the film's cleverness, but an erupting, uncontrollable laughter that captures your mind in bliss. Time after time, "St. Vincent" made me laugh like this, out loud. It runs the gambit over all methods of comedy: physical gags, one-liners, banter between actors, situational comedy, and awkward moments. The actors and execution are responsible for creating comedy where there may not have been any to begin with, yes, I'm looking at you, Naomi Watts.
At first sight, Watts made me laugh to myself thinking, "Man, 'Diana' really did a number on her career options, huh?", but the more Watts got to flesh out the character, the more she made me chuckle, and the more I saw her commitment to the obnoxious role. She throws herself into territory where she usually does not trend, as does her co-supporting actress Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy gives the performance with the most value, cranking this character out of the park. She radiates her dramatic talents to extents only hinted at in her more serious roles like Sookie in "Gilmore Girls". Get McCarthy out of films like "Tammy" and "The Heat", and let her pursue roles in which she can create a real person, like she does here.
Bill Murray has been the actor hailed by critics and the selling point of the picture, and he brings exactly what you would expect he would bring to the role: perfect comedic timing, a faultless empathy to the scumbag, and movie star strength to carry the project. But who brings a movie star power more than anyone is newcomer Jaeden Lieberher, who transcends past typical annoying children archetypes.
"St. Vincent" is a sweet, lovable film that grows on you with each passing laugh. It's the most I have shamelessly laughed at the cinema all year.
* * * 1/2 / * * * *