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Movie Therapy With Bill Murray—Movie Review

Whenever I find myself in a funk, there’s nothing like a good movie to lift my spirits. Right now I have Bill Murray and writer-director Theodore Melfi to thank for St. Vincent, which gave me an evening of pure pleasure. It couldn’t have come at a better time. My family and I are going through a stressful period, having just moved to a new house after twenty-four years. We haven’t gone far, but it’s still a big adjustment and we’re living in a sea of boxes. We’re dealing with an endless parade of workmen, reliable and otherwise, and that movie title The Money Pit keeps coming to mind.

What better time to see a charming fable like St. Vincent? It opens in theaters on Friday and I encourage you to see it, especially if you’re in the mood for something upbeat. Gone Girl is a great piece of work, but it doesn’t leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling about the human condition. St. Vincent, on the other hand, reminds me of a Damon Runyon story: its main character may not be completely realistic, but he’s the kind of guy you wish you had in your life. On the surface he’s completely disreputable, a misanthrope who drinks and gambles too much, barks at his new neighbors, and seems to be thoroughly irresponsible. Melissa McCarthy plays a newly-single mom who moves next door on a residential block in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn with her young son and winds up having to rely on Murray to babysit him after school every day.

That’s all I’ll reveal about the story. It isn’t that Melfi’s script is so dependent on the element of surprise, but I knew nothing about it going in, and so enjoyed meeting his colorful cast of characters—played by McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard, and the pitch-perfect Jaeden Lieberher as the boy—that I’d love you all to have the fun of discovering them for yourselves, as I did.

I shouldn’t be running this review before the film opens on Friday, but I couldn’t resist sharing my enthusiasm, all the more so because the movie did something I cherish, and don’t experience often enough: it lifted my spirits. It couldn’t have come at a better moment.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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