Life could’ve been a whole lot different for Vincent (played by Bill Murray). He might have managed things a lot better and had a good job, been financially secure, been in good health and enjoyed life a lot. But … he isn’t. He’s made a few bad choices during his life, he’s got heavily into debt with a loan shark and spent most of his money on prostitutes, gambling and drinking … and now his future isn’t looking all that great. One day, he arrives home to find his new neighbour, Maggie (by Melissa McCarthy), moving in. Her removalists have damaged his property and while he grumpily listens to her apology he has little interest in her or her son, Oliver (by Jaeden Lieberher). Within a few days though, Oliver turns up on Vincent’s doorstep – locked out of his own house after being bullied at his new school. With nowhere else to go, Vincent allows Oliver inside his unkempt place until Maggie gets home. He sees an opportunity to make some extra cash, so Vincent agrees to ‘babysit’ Oliver each day after school – for a fee of course. This is the beginnings of a unique relationship between these two males – Oliver needs a father-figure and whilst Vincent struggles with this, it’s clear that Oliver needs to learn a few things about real life and Vincent’s happy to have him tag along. As the weeks pass, Oliver sees there’s much more to Vincent than just a “grumpy old man next door”.
This movie is a surprise – and it’s marvellous. It begins quite unassumingly, but as is often the case Bill Murray’s style is so understated that his appearance demands attention, and he deserves it. His performance as Vincent – a man with some very bad habits – seems to come very easily for him. But Vincent’s also a multi-faceted, caring and predominantly good human being and Bill Murray can do that so well too – he makes it look effortless. The chemistry between Oliver and Vincent is beautifully portrayed and the development of their relationship is authentic. Other characters add useful texture to the story too – Naomi Watts, weirdly cast as Russian escort, Daka – does okay in this role. As Maggie, Melissa McCarthy is great and Chris O’Dowd is perfect as Oliver’s school teacher, Brother Geraghty. This is a good movie – very entertaining. Well done.
Made in 2014. Directed by Theodore Melfi.