St. Vincent – 1 star

The film has aspirations to Wes Anderson, but you’ll learn quickly, having Bill Murray in your cast isn’t enough. Murray plays an old Brooklyn codger, a man who drinks, smokes, and consorts with a pregnant Russian stripper/prostitute (Naomi Watts, sporting an accent so thick and implausible it would make Gary Oldman recoil and say, “no, no . . . too much”).  He also gambles at the track, is in deep with a bookie, and spits in the eye of anyone who might show him kindness. Yet, he’s cool because he listens to a Walkman that plays kitschy 70s pop or Dylan. So rest assured, this guy has a heart of gold. Naturally, when he gets new neighbors (newly divorced and fed up nurse Melissa McCarthy and her impossibly wise yet innocent son Jaeden Lieberher), he opens up a crack, takes the kid under his wing, and to the track, and to the bar, and in the vicinity of the prostitute.  Predictable hijinks ensue, but when the son gets the assignment at his Catholic school to find a saint here on earth, well . . . guess who?

It’s a testament to the effectiveness of first time writer-director Ted Melfi that he can get you to well up a little on occasion, but that doesn’t change the fact you want to punch him in his face for manipulating you so brazenly.  This is paint by numbers, hip treacle that might make even Zach Braff a little queasy.

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