On the Rocks is the long awaited reunion of Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola since A Very Murray Christmas. Actually, since Lost in Translation even though they did do the Christmas special together.
It’s more of a straight comedy than either Murray does lately or Coppola does ever and it’s refreshing at that. These two and the cast elevate On the Rocks above the usual lighthearted romp.
Daddy daughter stalking in ‘On the Rocks’
Laura (Rashida Jones) is married to Dean (Marlon Wayans). They have two kids and Dean has been distracted lately. He’s engaged in some suspicious behavior and he’s traveling a lot with Fiona (Jessica Henwick).
Laura’s dad Felix (Murray) sows more suspicion with his firsthand knowledge of how men perpetrate affairs. He takes Laura along to stalk Dean and they actually bond through the activity.
Welcome back, funny Bill Murray
In the last 20 years, when Murray is funny in a movie it’s usually a cameo. This is a whole movie with Murray being funny and charming, not in an over the top way like his ‘80s movies, but a confirmation that he’s still got it.
On the Rocks delves a bit deeper into what generally makes real human beings such outgoing performers. In most movies, Murray would play a lovable scamp. This movie shows Felix overcompensating for some personal shortcomings, distracting himself from facing them even when his loved ones need him to.
A reckless driving scene on the streets of New York is quite impressive. Murray seems to be having fun it it too. Then Felix charms the police officers who pull him over. Murray still has that silver tongue. He’s also long proven he has the chops to show Felix’s vulnerability, even when his decisions are the cause of those disappointments.
It is a little frustrating that Felix’s philosophy is the same old “men are hardwired to preserve the species” B.S. It sounds better than usual with Murray doing Coppola dialogue but it’s hard to believe men still buy into that simplistic thinking. Perhaps a man of Felix’s generation never outgrew it, or perhaps they know its B.S. but can’t face the truth. It just seems a modern writer like Coppola could dig a little deeper in that respect.
Sofia Coppola’s love letters to fathers and daughters
You probably don’t need to be one of the most famous daughters of one of the most famous men to have strong feelings about the father/daughter relationship. Coppola is in a position to depict it though and her love for the joy and all the complexities of that dynamic comes through in Laura and Felix.
On the Rocks makes an effective case for the exhaustion Laura rightly feels between family duties and all the other people she meets who demand her attention. A Hollywood rom-com would hate Laura for being the responsible wife and mother. On the Rocks celebrates her and gives her the dignity that position deserves.
On the Rocks is a lighter movie for Coppola and 21st century Murray, but still adds depth to the shenanigans. It’s a breezy watch on Apple TV+ on Oct. 23.
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