I was definitely looking forward to this movie. It appeared to be Bill Murray back in a role he could really sink his teeth into, playing, not a supporting role or a Wes-Andersonian cameo, but a cantankerous old man that’s the lead of the film. I was, however, deeply disappointed. I think a lot of this can go down to director Melfi because, basically, all of the actors are dreadful. Murray is saddled with some sort of weird accent that comes, goes and morphs enigmatically. Melissa McCarthy is the best of the bunch, but even she only gets a couple of laughs. The less said about Naomi Watts the better. (“A pregnant Russian stripper/hooker? Get Watts on the phone!”) And even a fine actor like Chris O’Down plays his Irish priest so broadly as to be cringe inducing. One feels that Melfi just kept telling everyone to go bigger; it doesn’t work at all. Murray, Watts and O’Dowd are probably all career worst here. And the script is just dreadfully hackneyed, so a little blame can also go to the writer (oh, it’s Melfi AGAIN!). It’s a clichéd story from the get go, of this crotchety old man connecting with his next door neighbor’s young son and finding . . . I don’t know, some semblance of kindness and love again, while also teaching the boy the wisdom of gambling and profanity. Oh, God, I forgot Terrence Howard, also career worst, as some sort of mobster who mumbles vague threats and then, hilariously, after a completely amicable relationship with Murray’s character, shows up with a gun and ATTEMPTS TO KILL HIM! And I simply cannot express my hatred for the climactic scene; as the young boy, a horrible actor of course, makes a heartfelt emotional speech about Murray’s character at school all while clicking through a photo slideshow so perfectly timed to his speech that it appears he’s about to unveil the new iPhone I just felt this black gush of rage in my heart. God, this is a bad, bad movie. Consider this a warning. 1 star.
tl;dr – stellar cast giving career worst performances across the board; awful, unfunny, hackneyed script doesn’t help matters. 1 star.