Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), a single mother, moves into a new home in Brooklyn with her 12-year old son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). Forced to work long hours, she has no choice but to leave Oliver in the care of their new neighbor, Vincent (Bill Murray), a retired curmudgeon with a penchant for alcohol and gambling. An odd friendship soon blossoms between the improbable pair. Together with a pregnant stripper named Daka (Naomi Watts), Vincent brings Oliver along on all the stops that make up his daily routine – the race track, a strip club, and the local dive bar. Vincent helps Oliver grow to become a man, while Oliver begins to see in Vincent something that no one else is able to: a misunderstood man with a good heart.
The story of St. Vincent is one that’s been told so many times already: cantankerous old man and innocent child team up, wacky hijinks ensue, and the two bring out the best from each other. What makes the story work (or not) usually comes down to the chemistry between the two characters, which can be tricky based on the age gap and the (usual) inexperience of the younger member.
Whoever found Jaeden Lieberher deserves kudos, because the kid is one of the more natural child actors I’ve seen on screen, and his chemistry with Bill Murray makes the film worth watching. For his part, Murray takes a part he could easily do in his sleep and instead puts everything he has into it. Vincent may be an unsavory character, but underneath he has a heart of gold. And don’t think you’ll forget that. Writer/director Theodore Melfi makes sure to show Vincent’s good actions often enough to balance his unsavory ones. By the time the film ends, they’ve made sure to bring him to near-deification.