Much of the sweet sentimentality here centers on the relationship that forms between the title character (Bill Murray) and the sprightly grade-schooler named Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) who moves in next door with his beleaguered mother, Maggie (Melissa McCarthy). And the comedy’s brashness comes from Murray’s much-troubled Vincent as well as from an array of quirky secondary characters. Murray brings a surprising number of expressive shadings to a familiar role—the rambunctiously grouchy derelict with a good heart. Naomi Watts does an unexpectedly rowdy turn as a pregnant Russian prostitute. There’s a nightmarish collection of social and domestic problems lurking just below the surface of this tale—broken families, alcohol and gambling addictions, schoolyard bullying, loan sharks, debilitating illness, embittered Vietnam vets, etc. All of that, ultimately, serves mainly as a kind of short-hand “realism”—bits of real-life sadness used mainly to heighten the sense of relief we’ll feel when the movie reaches its feel-good conclusions.
Cinemark 14 and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13