Bill Murray stars as Vincent, a down-and-out alcoholic who terrorises his new neighbours Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver.

Outwardly, it seems that Vincent is just a curmudgeonly, bitter old man but when he agrees to help Maggie by babysitting Oliver, his daily habits belie a softer side and heartbreaking factors behind his current state of affairs.

A school project designed by Oliver’s modern religious teacher (Chris O’Dowd) sees him reveal the saintly ways behind Vincent’s gruff exterior for all to see. It’s lovely to see Melissa McCarthy in a role where her boisterous comedy, often centered on slapstick situations cheaply highlighted by her weight, doesn’t take centre stage.

As Maggie she is quietly fighting to rebuild her life and, despite vocalising her disproval of Vincent’s attitude, has more in common with him than either of them would care to admit, and a lot, it turns out, to thank him for on behalf of her son. Murray has been playing the curmudgeon since his Ghostbusters days and his style fits Vincent perfectly with equal revulsion and charm.

We’re also treated to glimmers of his touching Oscar-nominated performance in Lost in Translation, as we find out what happened to his wife and as he finds out what Oliver has been working towards during their afternoons together. This is a great one for a multi-generational school holiday cinema trip that’s not dripping in tinsel and festivities nor drowning in try-hard Oscar-bidding performances.

Ashley Whittaker 