Friday, September 12, 2014

TIFF 2014: Bill Murray Is a Saint Among Us

Posted By on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 4:41 PM

The soundtrack to Vincent McKenna's life includes "One Toke Over the Line" playing on the jukebox; the soft, quick grind of his cigarette lighter; the call to the post at Belmont Race Track; and his Russian stripper girlfriend moaning "giddyup" during some pretty pathetic lovemaking.

Vincent is no saint, yet he's the centerpiece of St. Vincent, the best film Bill Murray has made in years and certain to be a huge audience-pleaser. But honestly, who else plays a colorful loser better than Murray? He's the ultimate inappropriate role model that captures our heart while probably lifting our wallet.

When Vincent isn't nursing a whiskey at the corner bar or losing big at the track, he's watching his rather pregnant Russian girlfriend (Naomi Watts) do her thing at the local strip club. Then up rolls Maggie (the wonderful Melissa McCarthy is a nicely restrained serio-comic performance) and young Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), Vincent's new neighbors.

Maggie is a single mom who needs someone to keep an eye on Oliver (and Vincent could use some extra cash). Thus begins an irresponsible adventure in babysitting that only Murray can pull off. In no time at all, Oliver is joining Vincent at the bar and the track, and, soon enough, learns that Vincent's girlfriend is a "lady of the night" but isn't exactly sure what that means. 

Chris O'Dowd is also along for this wonderful ride as an eager-to-please Irish priest/teacher.

"Dumbness does not play well in heaven" he charges his impressionable students.

St. Vincent was a perfect way to wrap up the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival: a splendorous story that inspires genuine laughter and a softball-size lump in the throat. And come on, it stars Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy. How good was that?

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