Movie Review: ‘On The Rocks’

Review by James Lindorf

In 2004 “Lost in Translation” earned four total Oscar nominations (Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture) with writer and director Sofia Coppola taking home a statue for her screenplay. Sixteen years later, Coppola is reuniting with acting legend Bill Murray for her latest project, “On the Rocks”. Laura (Rashida Jones) struggles with a severe case of writer’s block, two young children, and a husband (Marlon Wayans) who works too much. Things begin to spiral out of control when Laura begins to suspect that Dean is having an affair. In her search for advice, she turns to the person who knows more about infidelity than any she knows, her father, Felix (Bill Murray). Available on Apple TV+ starting October 23rd.

“On the Rocks” is a blend of top-shelf ingredients from director Sofia Coppola and its fantastic cast on down to frequent Coppola collaborators cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd and composer Phoenix. The mix was perfect, but Coppola wasn’t quite fast enough, resulting in the drink being watered down and losing some of its punch. Rashida carries the film as its emotional center. Simultaneously, Murray’s charisma brings the movie to life, leaving very little for the remaining cast to sink their teeth into.

Marlon once again proves he more than just a White Chick even though Dean is a secondary character, at best. Laura deserved to have this big moment to triumphantly reclaim her passion for her writing and possibly for Dean. Instead of taking it back, she randomly finds it with all the joy of loose couch change.

The most striking example of “On the Rocks” being just off its mark is a dramatic scene between Jones and Murray, where they discuss why he had an affair. This massive moment for the two characters is a conversation 20+ years in the making, and the two actors are doing their best to bring it to life. Unfortunately, with the way it is presented, it feels like they are talking to the scenery rather than each other. During this point of the film, it is almost exclusively shots of a single character looking longingly ahead instead of the two bonding and fighting in this strange moment. When the characters feel isolated from each other, it isn’t long before the audience begins to detach itself as well.

Despite never reaching its pinnacle, “On the Rocks” is still above average in every respect and goes down easy. Murray is infinitely charming as the quicky Felix, and Rashida Jones is excellent as the put-upon wife making this the best thing the young streaming service currently offers.

Rating: R (Some Language|Sexual References)
Genre: Comedy
Original Language: English
Director: Sofia Coppola
Producer: Sofia Coppola, Youree Henley
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Jessica Henwick, and Jenny Slate
Release Date (Streaming): Oct 23, 2020
Runtime: 1h 36m

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