The formulaic ending spoiled it for me.
by Martin Hafer
St. Vincent just debuted on DVD and I decided to give it a watch. After all, the reviews I had read about it were pretty good and I was curious to see what Bill Murray was up to these days. Well, after seeing it, I found that the first 80% or so was excellent but the final portion was formulaic and, well, annoying.
The film opens on Vincent (Bill Murray), a surly, alcoholic jerk. When a struggling divorcee (Melissa McCarthy) moves in with her son next door, Vince isn’t the least bit friendly towards them since he is a real jerk. Soon, an emergency comes up and her boy is forced to go to Vince’s house until his mother returns from work. In the interim, Vincent is pretty nasty towards the kid and will only watch him after the mother agrees to pay him! She begins using Vincent for babysitting services, though I have no idea why. Together, Vincent and the boy have some adventures–he teaches the kid to fight, takes him to the horse track as well as a bar where he learns that Vince’s lady-friend is a “lady of the night.”
So far, I was enjoying the film because it was so wrong. After all, Vince didn’t really have many redeeming qualities and he really was a terrible person. I appreciated that because too often in films (especially from Hollywood) the filmmakers or film execs feel that there is a need to tack on a nice ending, one with redemption and change. Well, they ended up ruining the film and did exactly this, even when essentially Vincent remained the same. The kid ends up doing a huge presentation in front of the entire school in which he says that Vincent is a living saint and everyone applauds (even the mother who lost sole custody of her kid because of Vince). This was simply a cop-out.
So is the film terrible? No, and that is the problem. It’s not terrible, as Murray did a great job playing Vincent and it was nice to see Melissa McCarthy doing a straight role instead of comedy. They simply deserved a better script. The formulaic and unnecessary ending just left me annoyed–annoyed that the groundwork for this happy ending had never really been laid out from the beginning. They should have either made Vincent completely horrible or shown more hidden wonderful things about the guy to justify us caring. But as it is, I was just left very frustrated.