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Movie Review

St. Vincent

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

Very Offensive
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1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 28, 2014 (festival)
October 17, 2014 (limited)
October 24, 2014 (wide—2,282+ theaters)
DVD: February 17, 2015
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, The Weinstein Company



vulgar language

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer

Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer


fornication and lust

CONSEQUENCES—What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

dealing with spouse who is senile

Copyright, The Weinstein Company

boy coming of age

bullies and how to deal with them

effects of having divorced parents

Featuring: Bill MurrayVincent
Melissa McCarthy … Maggie
Naomi WattsDaka
Chris O'DowdBrother Geraghty
Terrence HowardZucko
Jaeden Lieberher … Oliver
Kimberly Quinn … Nurse Ana
more »
Director: Theodore Melfi
Producer: Chernin Entertainment
Crescendo Productions
more »
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

“Love thy neighbor”

Vincent MacKenna (Bill Murray) is a grouchy, mean, old, self-centered, crass man, living in a residential area in Brooklyn. At least, that’s what everyone thinks.

Our story begins when Vincent discovers he has new neighbors moving in Maggie Bronstein (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver. You see, Maggie works late nights at the hospital as an MRI technician. One night, she asks Vincent to babysit Oliver while she works late. At first, Vincent is hesitant. He doesn’t really like kids… or anybody, for that matter. But as time goes on, we watch as Vincent and Oliver start to grow on each other. And the rest? Well, the rest, you would just have to see for yourself…

In the movie “Shrek,” there’s a scene where Shrek says to Donkey something along the lines of, “Ogres are like onions. They both have layers.” Well, the film, “St. Vincent” fits this description quite nicely. Yes, there are moments where it is downright offensive. All you have to do is watch the trailers to know what you’re getting into. Vincent is a rude, crass, foul-mouthed alcoholic gambler, and his personality definitely shows all these qualities. Without giving too much away, though, with “St. Vincent” you have to peel back the layers (like an onion) to see past Vincent’s horrible nature into a much deeper character. The film starts with giving us barely anything about Vincent and then very slowly and rather hesitantly giving us more information, to an ultimate realization of the mystery behind the man. If you can endure the content (as you will read later, there is a LOT to deal with—why I rated this Very Offensive), this film does have something more to offer.

Objectionable Content

Violence: Moderate. Vincent teaches Oliver how to defend himself. There’s a scene where Vincent hits his hand with a hammer, then slips on some ice in his house, hits the cabinet doors and lands on the floor, with a medium-sized head wound (blood on his head and the floor). Toward the beginning of the film, Oliver is seen being bullied, and physically abused.

Profanity: Heavy. Please note, this section contains some graphic vocabulary. Like I said, Vincent has quite the, umm, “sailor’s mouth.” Language from him, and other characters, includes f**k (two verbal and three as an obscene gesture), h*ll (3), d**n (2), a**hole (9), sh*t (2), God’s name is used in vain once. Heavier vulgarity includes four instances of pr*ck, pol**ck (1), p*ssy (1), whore (1), and d*ck-wad (1). Other vulgarity includes a urination reference, female genitalia references, and the term “lady of the night.” Oliver states that Vincent is not “too young but not to old either” in reference to child molestation. When Oliver is bullied, Vincent tells the bullies, “Whatever you do to Oliver, I’ll do to all of your moms.”

Sexual Content: Vincent is noted as sleeping with a pregnant stripper named Daka (Naomi Watts). She often wears very revealing clothing. There are scenes involving strip clubs. There is also one scene where Naomi bends over and Vincent stares at her buttocks. Oliver’s mom, Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), mentions how her soon to be ex-husband was caught cheating with several women. There is also a sex scene involving Daka and Vincent.

Other: There is a scene, at Oliver’s school, where the teacher pokes fun at various religions (Buddhism, Judaism, etc.). Vincent is seen smoking cigarettes, gambling, and drinking.

How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer

How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer

The theme of sainthood is a mixed issue for Christians. Personally, I believe all true followers of Christ are saints of God, because we are born again in Christ and our purpose is to glorify and bring people to Him.

Our duty then, as saints, is to serve God continually. We are to live as examples and as testimonies of God’s love and mercy, and the sacrifice of his son Jesus. We are to show compassion, care for others, pray unceasingly, and, in doing so, bring people to Christ and share the good news of his sacrifice and love for all of us.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Ephesians 4:11-12, NIV)

“St. Vincent” is full of layers. You will have to peel away layers upon layers until you get to some redeeming qualities. As a Christian, this film is offensive in so many different ways. There’s vulgar language, heavy sexual themes, and some violence to contend with. The performances are good, and the story enjoyable. If you are willing to “peel the layers,” then you might be amused and slightly entertained by the film “St. Vincent,” as the parts that aren’t entirely profane, though few and far between, are actually humorous and some are even heart wrenching. However, if the above content is too much, then I advise, you stay far away from “St. Vincent.” This is not a movie for children, so certainly leave the young ones at home.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

Is SIN funny? No, see why.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This movie had me at the opening scene: A joke is being told in a seedy bar—and it is NOT bawdy!?! This is followed shortly be a heartwarming scene of interfaith fellowship in a classroom. Although the dialogue is sprinkled with profanity, it is also filled with random acts of unexpected kindness, from barkeeps and bookies and bullies and hookers.

This movie would have been more enjoyable if Bill Murray’s character, Vince, had the eloquence to express his anger with any of the acceptable epithets available in the English language; but this would have made him atypical, and this movie strives to make us compassionate for the typical low-life, like Jesus.

The many vices of Vince are never lauded, but presented as cautionary tales that only add to his woes.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Brian Schacht, age 67 (Canada)
Negative—When I give a rating to a movie (positive or not), it is based on the intentions of the movie. Is the story well told? is the message clear? And if there is violence and sex, how is this used? Sometimes they are essential to the story, and the movie might not glorify these negative and sinful elements. However, in “St. Vincent,” I found a very strange effort on the part of the producers and writers to paint a derelict and drunkard as a good man, and he’s not.

Yes, he helps babysit a neighbor’s son when she is at work, and he is devoted to his wife who is institutionalized for dementia. But apart from that, there are no redeeming qualities to this man, and there is lots wrong with him. I am again disappointed that good comedic actors like Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy waste their talents on a lame script.

Naomi Watts, who is an excellent dramatic actress, does a fine job as a Russian prostitute, and there is a newcomer beautifully portraying the little neighbor boy. But the story struggles to eek out a moral message about the virtues of Vincent. There is a touching and well-done scene when the little boy expresses his appreciation for his neighbor, but this did not save the movie for me.

People in the theater laughed quite a bit, but I saw not one funny thing in this movie. It is about crassness, immorality, crudeness, and more.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Halyna Barannik, age 68 (USA)
Negative—Prostitute sex scene at the very beginning of the movie—enough said. This movie is not for kids. One slightly funny scene. Very disappointed. The little boy was the only saving grace, but not enough to save this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Sandi, age 57 (USA)
Movie Critics

…Here’s how good an actor Bill Murray is. He does such a bristly, entertaining turn as a boozy curmudgeon in St. Vincent, that he saves first-time director Theodore Melfi’s obvious dramedy from sliding into a burbling sinkhole of schmaltz. … [2½/4]
—Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail

…Murray is the star attraction here, in a role that’s both fan-friendly and reminiscent of the range he showed in “Broken Flowers” and “Lost in Translation.” The iconic actor may be too gruff for sainthood, but Murray still retains a secret stash of soul.
—Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

…“St. Vincent,” the movie, is a lot like its namesake character, Vincent: overexuberant, a bit predictable, messy in a very self-conscious way. But really, none of that matters, because the guy playing Vincent is Bill Murray, in what may be the archetypal Bill Murray role. …
—Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

…“St. Vincent” faithfully follows every trope and cliche of the ingratiating kid-and-curmudgeon genre. Throw in a hooker with a heart of gold (Naomi Watts), a wisecracking Catholic school teacher (Chris O’Dowd) and some touching surprises in Vincent’s back story, and Melfi hits a trifecta all his own, shamelessly soliciting laughter, tears and sentimental sighs with the same ham-handed insistence as Vincent’s most thuggish debt collectors. …
—Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

…this refreshingly unorthodox tragicomedy mounts a pretty convincing case that sometimes role models arrive in disguise — as they do here for the pic’s preteen hero. Murray makes a dream addition to the fast-growing irresponsible-adults subgenre…
—Peter Debruge, Variety

…Murray, of course, can play a redeemable misanthrope with one hand tied behind his back. Unfortunately, that's exactly what he has to do here…
—Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

…A big, sloppy wet kiss of a movie about an old grouch, a sweet kid and their odd-couple friendship, “St. Vincent” has a couple of things going for it, mostly Bill Murray. …
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

…A marshmallow hiding inside a chestnut shell, St. Vincent is amusing enough as long as Bill Murray sticks to his mean and ornery act but ultimately reveals its true self as a film equivalent of the gooey 1971 Ray Stevens song “Everything Is Beautiful.” …
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

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