Bill Murray’s ‘St. Vincent’ Is Getting Mixed Reviews from Critics

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Bill Murray’s new movie St. Vincent premieres in theaters tomorrow, and so far it’s getting mixed reviews from critics. Between the tale of Bill Murray’s casting and its warm reception at the Toronto International Film Festival, Vincent has an interesting behind-the-scenes tale as director Ted Melfi’s debut feature, but Flavorwire’s review sums up the biggest takeaway from most of critical response: “Who’re we kidding – no one’s seeing St. Vincent for its narrative innovations. This is a Bill Murray Picture, and it’s full of opportunities for him to do his thing.” The good (and unsurprising) news is that Bill Murray’s performance in St. Vincent has garnered tons of praise, while the bad news lies in the script, pacing, and Melfi’s tendencies toward drawing out overly sentimental “movie moments.” Here’s what some of the critics are saying:

“The direction is negligent and the jokes are mild. It’s an O.K. little picture that doesn’t really go anywhere, but it has a resonance that is easy on the heart.”

- New York Observer

Vincent gets some laughs, because Murray is a wizard of delivery, even when he’s holding back his deadpan wisecracks and conversational riffing in favor of an old-school Brooklyn yawp. As written, though, the character could fit right in on a CBS sitcom.”

- The A.V. Club

“Well, first-time writer-director Theodore Melfi surrounds Murray with quite a bit, including too many ‘movie moments.’ But Melfi’s touch is so blessedly light, and his star’s appeal so great, that St. Vincent wins you over.”

- New York Daily News

“Why not just call it St. Bill and get it over with? The most lovable curmudgeon in modern movies gets a valedictory lap (and, you suspect, another Oscar campaign) in Theodore Melfi’s crowd-pleasing yet dangerously sentimental wacky-neighbor dramedy.”

- Time Out

“This may not be his signature work, but it’s Murray at the top of his game in the type of role audiences want to see him in. Frankly, it’s somewhat surprising it took him this long to find a project in this vein.”

- HitFix

“Writer-director Theodore Melfi (directing his first feature) has a good eye for composition — his specialty is a well-framed overhead shot, which he trots out a few times, but not too many — and he maintains a brisk pace, though the picture’s turn towards the melancholy is awfully abrupt, and too clumsily telegraphed by Theodore Shapiro’s score.”

- Flavorwire

“Even though the film willfully ignores plenty of real-life issues as it rushes toward its denouement, beginning with some basic economic ones, Melfi has laid on the heart of gold stuff so sincerely that mainstream audiences might just eat it up. There’s good in every soul, the film endeavors to say; it’s just a question of finding it.”

- The Hollywood Reporter

“Yet nothing can make a discerning viewer feel worse than seeing a ‘feel-good’ movie like this one. Melfi ends scenes with visual punch lines that play like rim shots; he forces salvation on everyone (including Oliver’s bully); he politicks shamelessly for emotional uplift. This barrage of kitsch is enough to turn any saint in the audience into the old, grouchy Vincent, before he got canonized.”

- Time

“It’s fascinating to watch Murray act circles around his existing appeal and play into it at the same time. Melfi’s likable but utterly formulaic movie never rises to a similar level of ambition, which in this case actually works in its favor. It gives Murray room to play.”

- Indiewire