By: Mary Fran Bontempo

St. VincentIt’s Grand Torino without the gangs.

Take a curmudgeonly old man, add a young new neighbor in need of some guidance, throw in lots of wisecracks, mix with a little conflict, have the kid learn and the cranky old guy redeem himself and there you have it–Grand Torino, or, in this case, St. Vincent, the new film starring Bill Murry in the title role.

Murray takes on the old guy role played by Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino with slight tweaks to the character. Murray’s Vincent is frequently drunk and his house is a mess, unlike Eastwood’s tidy home in his film. And Vincent enjoys visits from another stock-type character in the form of Naomi Watts as the hooker with a heart of gold. Oh, and she’s quite pregnant, which adds another, um, interesting twist to the plot.

As for the neighbors, instead of a Korean family, Vincent is met with newly single mom, Melissa McCarthy as Maggie, and her son, Oliver, played endearingly by Jaeden Lieberher. Oliver runs into the predictable new kid problems–bullies at school and loneliness, and Vincent reluctantly comes to the rescue in both instances. He also teaches Oliver how to bet on the ponies, and introduces him to Watt’s Daka, much to Maggie’s chagrin.

As always, Murray plays the cranky, disaffected grouch with just the right touch of disdain and vulnerability, allowing the viewer to easily fall for his relationship with Oliver. The other cast members are spot-on, especially young Lieberher and Chris O’Dowd as a religious brother who teaches at Oliver’s new school.

St. Vincent is funny, sweet and, alas, predictable. But in a world where the next unknown disaster is waiting to attack at a moment’s notice, maybe predictable isn’t so bad after all.  See the trailer for St. Vincent below.