In the trailer for St. Vincent, a Catholic school teacher (Chris O’Dowd) explains sainthood thusly: “A saint is a human being we celebrate for the sacrifices that they make, for their commitment to making the world a better place.” That doesn’t describe the typical Bill Murray character (though it might describe Murray himself), and it doesn’t seem to describe St. Vincent de Van Nuys, the title character he plays in the new film by relative newcomer Theodore Melfi.
Van Nuys is a hedonistic malcontent with pretty much nothing going for him. Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) is his new neighbor, a single mother whose son Oliver gets bullied at school. Having learned that his bank account is overdrawn, de Van Nuys offers to watch Oliver after school for a paltry $11 an hour. Cue the hijinks: The unlikely nanny takes his charge to the racetrack, teaches him how to defend himself, and introduces him to Daka (Naomi Watts), a “lady of the night” who, as she explains in a somewhat exaggerated Russian accent, “works for the man.”
A narrative about a ne’er-do-well’s reformation and a young boy’s coming-of-age? Things could get saccharine. But no one does disgruntled, curmudgeonly, and apathetic like Murray. Here’s hoping his turn in St. Vincent, with its stellar supporting cast, is no exception. The movie hits theaters on Oct. 24.