By Bonnie Anderson
Bill Murray in his role as Vincent McKenna, is basically an old coot, with well-hidden morals who drinks too much and has regular interludes with a hooker (Naomi Watts). “Vinnie” finds himself as the after-school babysitter for the charmingly “too-old-for-his-age” neighbor kid, Oliver, (Jaeden Lieberher) who is a compelling counterpart for Bill Murray. Oliver, stoic and restrained, becomes intrigued and “freed-up” by Vinnie’s “whatever” mind set.
Melinda McCarthy, Oliver’s mother (Maggie), is uncharacteristically not funny in this film, which turns out to be a good decision by writer-director Theodore Melfie. Bill Murray commands the comedy role. Best not to have any competing comic. Maggie, down on her luck, a divorced parent committed to doing the best for her son, she has little choice but to entrust her son for after school care, to the wacky neighbor so she can keep her job. Little does she know. Buckle up, Oliver.
One of the best parts of this film is the credits. Really. Bill Murray waters his dirt (and his feet in socks and flip flops) from a lounge chair, while occasionally smoking a cigarette and singing along to Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm”. If you are ever tempted to sing along while you have your ear buds in, remember this scene.
This film reminds us that Saints aren’t just those named by a religious organization. Why not look at the Saints all around us? Saints are everyday people. Saints take the message of “love your neighbor as yourself” to heart in many different ways and act on it with courage. Do you know anyone like that? You, perhaps?
Rumor has it that Bill Murray will be nominated for a long deserved Oscar for his role as Vincent McKenna. How great it would be for the “spiritual but not religious” and for the “spiritual and religious” in our changing society if the “Academy” gave an Oscar to Bill Murray for his portrayal of a simple, funny, bizarre and infinitely human person who is authentic, and perhaps even how God intended him to be. What a concept!