When sad sack “Vincent” finds his fence and tree damaged by his new neighbour moving in, we get full strength grumpy old man. Nobody plays that role better than Bill Murray.
Maggie (Melissa Mccarthy) and Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) are renting next to the worlds, most cantankerous, cynical neighbour. Aside of global warming, is anything likely to melt the old man’s heart, if he still has one.
Being a single Mom with a busy job means a baby sitter is required, who better than hard drinking, gambling and womanising guy next door. Of course things are not planned that way, but needs must and the unlikely pairing of young Oliver and Vincent hit it off.
As any film of this type should, both characters have something to learn from each other. Oliver how to protect himself and how to bet on the horses. Vincent, eventually realising what a complete prick he has become, despite his softer side being amply demonstrated as the story moves along.
Of course Vincent is often in need of a little female company and has a casual/business arrangement with a East European “lady of the night” (Naomi Watts) complete with fake accent.
The film pitches for a message that however messy your life, it will always work out in the end. A laudable sentiment but given the hurdles thrown Vincent’s way and his inability to even attempt to overcome them, this is optimistic indeed.
The film takes a few dark turns and loses the feel good tone the director was pitching for. Problems are seemingly resolved off camera and reality intrudes, only to be quickly forgotten if it fails to suit the story.
Acting as you would expect is solid with McCarthy toning down the craziness, Murray his usual laconic cynical self and young Lieberher a natural presence, with no movie moppet tendencies. Watts feels miscast in the sassy prostitute with a heart of gold role but does her best in a thankless role.
Overall despite a reasonable premise and great cast, this remains a disappointing dramedy, with more emphasis on the drama than trailers might suggest.