REVIEW: ST. VINCENT

CAST

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
Bill Murray (Zombieland)
Naomi Watts (King Kong)
Chris O’ Dowd (This Is 40)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Ann Dowd (Compliance)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)

Vincent MacKenna is a retired grumpy alcoholic Vietnam War veteran, living in Sheepshead Bay who smokes and gambles regularly. His wife, Sandy, developed Alzheimer’s years ago and can no longer recognize him, but he poses as a doctor to visit her and does her laundry. Vincent’s only close friends are a pregnant Russian sex worker named Daka and his cat, Felix. Despite his aggressive attitude toward strangers, Vincent has acquaintances who admire and care about him.
Vincent’s 30-year-old Chrysler LeBaron gets damaged by a tree branch felled by his new neighbors’ moving van. Maggie Bronstein, a radiology tech divorcee, and her son Oliver meet Vincent, who demands payment for the damage. Maggie does the best to provide for Oliver, who is ostracized and bullied at his Catholic school, but is a knowledgeable, friendly boy, welcomed warmly by his new teacher. On his first day at his school, Oliver’s phone, wallet and house keys are stolen by his classmate Robert. Oliver asks Vincent if he can stay at his home until his mother comes home from work. Vincent offers to continue babysitting for a fee.
Vincent picks up Oliver daily after school because Maggie often has late shifts. Vincent’s ideas of after-school activities involve visits to racetracks and bars. The mismatched pair begin to help each other mature, though Maggie is at first horrified by Vincent’s behavior. Vincent teaches Oliver how to defend himself, resulting in Oliver breaking Robert’s nose, who later apologizes and gives back what he stole. Oliver befriends Robert. Vincent and Oliver win a high odds bet on the horses, enabling Vincent to pay off some of his debts. But he gambles away the rest, hoping to make more to keep Sandy in her nursing home.
Vincent is confronted in his home by loan sharks Zucko and Antwan who attempt to take Sandy’s jewelry. Vincent suffers a stroke and Zucko and Antwan leave him on the floor. Vincent is hospitalized and has physical therapy. Oliver, Maggie and Daka help Vincent recover. Oliver’s father, a lawyer, finds out about Vincent and uses the information to get joint custody, with Maggie telling Vincent that he can no longer see Oliver. Vincent becomes depressed after finding out Sandy died while hospitalized. Oliver nominates Vincent, for his “Saints Among Us” school project and asks around the neighborhood about Vincent’s past. Oliver publicly declares Vincent his saint in front of the school’s assembly, who happily reconciles with Oliver. Some time later, Daka gives birth to a child, and she along with Maggie, Oliver and Robert go to Vincent’s house, where they eat and happily talk.St. Vincent is a sweet, lovable film that grows on you with each passing laugh.

 

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REVIEW: THE HEAT

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Speed)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Damian Bichir (Che)
Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie)
Michael Rapaport (The 6th Day)
Jane Curtin (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Taran Killam (How I Met Your Mother)
Michael McDonald (The Boss)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Jessica Chaffin (New Girl)
Ben Falcone (Tammy)
Paul Feig (Sabrina: TTW)

FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is an expert and effective investigator in New York City, but is despised by her allied agents for her egotistical & vicious personality. When her manager assigns her to a mission Boston, she meets a detective named Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), a skilled but loudmouthed, bloodthirsty, sadistic, hot headed, & merciless cop who is part of the Boston Police Department. Ashburn’s ruthless philosophy clashes with Mullins’nefarious style of law work, proved during their attempt to interrogate local drug dealer Rojas (Spoken Reasons) who was captured by Mullins. Under pressure from Hale (Demián Bichir), her employer, Ashburn reluctantly agrees to work with Mullins as her ally.
Ashburn and Mullins tail a local nightclub manager named Hank LeSoire (Adam Ray) to his place of business known as Club Ekko and successfully place a bug on his cell phone in an effort to get information on a drug lord, Simon Larkin. As they leave the club, Ashburn and Mullins are confronted by DEA agents Craig (Dan Bakkedahl) and Adam (Taran Killam), who have been working the Larkin case for several months and are worried that their case will be compromised. Ashburn and Mullins discover a surveillance video in the DEA agents’ van showing Mullins’ brother, Jason (Michael Rapaport), apparently connected to Larkin’s organization. Jason was recently released from prison, having been put there by Mullins to keep him off the streets and out of trouble.
Ashburn convinces Mullins to go to her parents’ home to ask Jason for information on Larkin. On their arrival at the home, it becomes apparent that Mullins’ parents (Michael B. Tucci and Jane Curtin) (particularly her mother) and three other brothers, Peter (Joey McIntyre), Mark (Bill Burr) and Michael (Nathan Corddry) (two of whom have girlfriends, Gina (Jessica Chaffin) and Beth (Jamie Denbo) still resent Mullins for her involvement in Jason’s incarceration. However, Jason does not have any ill feelings toward his sister, and tips her off about the body of a murdered drug dealer by the name of Sal Netalie in an abandoned car. Chemicals on the victim’s shoes lead Ashburn and Mullins to an abandoned paint factory, where they witness a drug dealer being murdered by Julian Vincent (Michael McDonald), vicious criminal and second-in-command of Larkin’s organization. They apprehend Julian but are unable to extract any substantial information regarding Larkin’s whereabouts, even with Mullins going so far as to play Russian Roulette with Julian’s testicles.
The pair spend the evening bonding in a bar, where a drunk Ashburn reveals that her foster child past may be partly to blame for her attitude. After a night of raucous drinking and partying, Ashburn wakes up the following morning to discover that, in her drunkenness, she has given her car keys to Wayne (Steve Bannos), one of the bar patrons. After unsuccessfully pleading for the keys, Ashburn and Mullins watch as the patron starts the car and is killed by a bomb. They discover that Julian has escaped from custody and means to harm Mullins’ family, so Mullins moves her family into a motel. Jason leaves, intending to join the Larkin organization in an attempt to help Mullins solve the case. Jason gives her a tip about a drug shipment coming into Boston Harbor. Despite Mullins’ reluctance, Ashburn gets the FBI to take down the shipment. The FBI finds that the ship is actually an innocent pleasure cruise ship. Jason was being tested by Larkin, who shoots Jason for informing the FBI about the supposed drug shipment. Jason escapes death but falls into a coma. A falling out occurs between Mullins and Ashburn, with Mullins vowing to bring her brother’s attacker to justice. They then reconcile when they arrest several drug dealers as a way of gaining leads to Larkin’s whereabouts, including Rojas.
Ashburn and Mullins go to equip themselves with assault weapons from Mullins’ extensive personal arsenal, and infiltrate one of Larkin’s warehouses. Despite taking out several of Larkin’s men with a hand grenade, the two officers are captured and bound. Julian is about to torture them with knives when he gets called away by Larkin. Before Julian leaves, he stabs Ashburn in the leg and leaves the knife in the wound. Mullins removes the knife from Ashburn’s leg and uses it to cut the rope binding her hands. Before she can finish freeing herself and Ashburn, they are discovered by Craig and Adam. Craig begins to untie the two women, but is shot and killed by Adam. Ashburn and Mullins learn that Adam is actually Larkin, who has been working his own case from inside the DEA for several months. Julian returns and Larkin orders him to kill Ashburn and Mullins while he goes to the hospital to kill Jason. After Larkin leaves, Mullins manages to finish freeing herself and Ashburn incapacitates Julian with a head butt, after Mullins had stabbed him in the leg. Mullins and Ashburn race to the hospital to save Jason.
Upon their arrival, Mullins rushes to find Jason. Ashburn, hindered by the stab wound in her leg, lags behind, unable to move quickly. Mullins learns that, due to the foul language she and her family exhibit, the doctor moved Jason to another room in the hospital; she finds Jason’s room, only to be disarmed by Larkin. He is about to kill Jason when Ashburn, having had to crawl to the room, subdues Larkin by shooting him in the genitals (much to Mullins’ surprise, as she would never actually do so; scaring Julian earlier was only a way of making him talk). With Larkin captured, Ashburn requests to stay in the FBI’s Boston field office, having developed a strong friendship with Mullins. Jason is shown having fully recovered from his coma. The film ends with Mullins receiving a commendation from the Boston Police Department. Members of her family are present and they cheer Mullins, now having reconciled with her. Ashburn later gets a call from Mullins to look in her year book. Mullins had signed the back of Ashburn’s yearbook with the words, “Foster kid, now you have a sister”, showing the strong friendship that Mullins felt for a previously unpopular Ashburn.
As a surprise, Mullins brings to Ashburn the cat that she had found in Ashburn’s neighbor’s house, believing it was hers. Earlier, when Mullins saw a photo of Ashburn with the neighbor’s cat, Ashburn had lied and said it was her cat which had gone missing in New York. Mullins quickly deduces that the cat is not Ashburn’s; Ashburn confesses and the cat is boxed to be shipped back, ending the film.This is some of Melissa McCarthy’s best work. She is a funny lady, she simply does not have to do what she does in most things to get the laughs. Bullock is an understated yet pleasant surprise and the chemistry between the two clicks immediately and effectively.