A young boy whose parents have just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door.
I love Bill Murray. Everyone loves Bill Murray (or should love!). And Bill Murray is a large part of why this warm hearted comedy-drama is a success. It follows the titular Vincent (Murray), a grouchy old man who spends his days drinking, gambling and visiting strip clubs, and generally being quite unpleasant to those around him (in a sarcastic way). When a single mother (Melissa McCarthy) and her 12 year old kid, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door, he inadvertently starts looking after Oliver when his mum struggles to balance her work at a hospital and looking after her son. Vincent is, of course, completely inappropriate as a role model and some of his ideas of after school activities take in his many vices. Despite this, they start to bond and Oliver starts to see a different side to Vincent that he doesn’t show on the surface, and Vincent starts to teach Oliver some valuable life lessons.
Bill Murray is of course great and is infinitely watchable, but he’s well matched by newcomer Lieberher, who has a winning charm without falling into the annoying trap that a lot of kid actors fall into, and Melissa McCarthy is good in a down to earth role after some recent comedy duds. Naomi Watts plays against type as a Russian prostitute, and whilst her character plays an important role in the film, she felt a little too cartoonish for the material in my opinion. The dialogue is sharp and quick paced, which allows the talented comedic actors to play off each other well (Chris O’Dowd is the final member of the main ensemble, as Oliver’s teacher). Most of all, the film succeeds at what it sets out to do. It’s very funny, it’s full of heart and it has a strong script that pays off in an extremely satisfying way. Recommended
Directed By: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Jaeden Lieberher, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard, Ann Dowd and Scott Adsit