This year’s films seem to be missing the emotional spark that lets you dive deep into the story. This movie should have been exactly what I needed. It's a very warm story that gives us a reminder that we need to not judge people. This move has all the elements for a green light film but falls sort of making a connection. They get a yellow light for the effort.
Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) and his mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) move next door to the world’s largest curmudgeon, Vincent (Bill Murray). Being tight on options, Maggie asks if Vincent can watch Oliver after school as she is a single mom with a job that keeps her late. He agrees and takes care of Oliver. Hummm, that’s a stretch. Better to say he takes Oliver around with him everywhere he goes.
They go to the track and to the nursing home where Vincent’s wife lives and to the strip club where he visits his “girlfriend” Daka (Naomi Watts). They go everywhere really. Their exploits are documented by Maggie’s husband, David (Scott Adsit) and used against her to gain joint custody of Oliver. During their journey, Oliver gets an assignment to find someone who has the qualities of a saint, and he picks Vincent
Some movies you can tell are going to be aiming for the heart strings. This is one of them. As I have stated before and if you follow me you know I am a sap when it comes to movies. I am an easy cry. I never had an emotional connection to the characters. It was a really great show with the right characters and with some really good performances but lacked spirit.
There seemed to be a lot of elements that bogged down the story. I think the subplot where Vincent had a stroke really was almost too much to add with the gambling debts. The other problem was the neatness of how everything was wrapped up. I was thinking through the film that there is not going to be an easy way out of this mess. It felt like the ending was forced and wasn't a natural resolution to his problems.
The underlying message not to judge others is solid. We are never fully understanding a person’s journey so we shouldn't make assumptions about people. In the story, Vincent plays a completely unlikable character, but he is a product of the choices and events in his life. Oliver is forced to spend time with him so he gets to see him in a different light. Oliver gives us the fresh perspective that we need to see past the gruff nasty exterior.
It's hard to give this movie a lower than green light because it is was defiantly trying very hard. The failures of the story were just too much to cram into the amount of time. They were trying way too hard to make the differences in Vincent noticeable. The only real connection is between Vincent and Oliver.
Chris O’Dowd needs to get more work. He is absolutely hilarious in this role as an unflappable Priest who assigned the class the task of finding Saints among us. The interaction between him and Maggie is outstanding. Overall the Director/ Writer / Producer (Theodore Melfi) did a good job of making a clean movie, He just needs to eliminate some of the distractors and he could have a really great product. He did an interview and said he doesn’t like to get his stink on a film. It is a stink free film, but it does need a stronger voice.
What movie have you seen that was just short of making a connection?