Bill Murray’s wry, sardonic face has gradually become one of the most naturally crowd-pleasing things in modern American independent film. Having spent most of the 80s and 90s starring in a string of comedy roles with mixed results, only really getting serious acclaim for the sublime Groundhog Day, his career saw a sea change when he started working with indie auteur Wes Anderson (he’s in almost all of his films, but most notably Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and more recently Moonrise Kingdom), giving him more serious and layered parts and earning him much more critical respect. Although he seemed to have missed his chance for an Oscar when failing to win for Lost in Translation, he’s remained a regular fixture in quirky, offbeat movies, popping up for entertaining cameos in the likes of Zombieland (as himself) and admirably taking on challenging, unusual parts in stuff like Get Low.

As a result, there is considerable mileage to be gained from just casting Bill Murray in your independent film, having him effectively play an exaggerated version of himself, and letting his considerable appeal carry the rest of the movie – which is exactly what happens here with St Vincent. The filmmakers seem to be fully aware of the ace card they’re carrying – the film begins and ends with fairly long scenes of Murray just singing to himself, such is their confidence in his onscreen appeal – and although at times things dip into frankly dangerous levels of sentimentality, the supporting cast (which includes Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Terrence Howard) are uniformly strong enough to propel things along until the next scene with Bill. It’s on the one hand a totally lazy film in how much it relies on one thing, and on the other a very welcome opportunity to just let a wonderful comedic actor just hold the screen for long periods.

Bill Murray doing that Bill Murray thing where he's basically just Bill Murray10
An otherwise quite cheesy and very sentimental story5
Not really having anything interesting in it apart from Bill Murray5
A decent supporting cast who do their best with fairly shallow material6
Bonus points for Bill Murray because he's Bill Murray10
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
7Overall Score

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