On the Rocks

Dept. of Cutty On The Rocks and a Bombay Martini for "The Kid"


Two thirds of the Lost In Translation dream team reunite for On the Rocks, as Sophia Coppola (writer, director) and Bill Murray (legendary gent) are now joined by Rashida Jones, in lieu of Scarlett Johansson, in this slight, comfortable, coming of middle age story.

Jones’ harried Laura has two beautiful kids, a handsome, smart husband, a comfortable New York apartment, and a career as a writer, but nonetheless finds herself in a rut. Between rushing the kids to school and classes, a distant husband (Marlon Wayans) who’s too busy with his growing company, and enduring writers block with her new novel, she’s just not feeling her best self.

Felix… The (Cool) Cat

Thankfully (for the audience) her harried lifestyle is enlivened by visits from her rich, former gallery owning, philandering, Dad, Felix (Murray). Living a life of ease, appreciating art (and women), and apparently knowing everyone in New York, Murray’s Felix pops up infrequently to whisk Laura out to boozy lunches and dinners, where he can hold forth on all the biological reasons why he acts the way he does, and she can roll her eyes at him. Picking up on some hints, he bolsters Laura’s feeling that her husband Dean is cheating on her with his cute assistant (Jessica Henwick), and starts to look into it using all the connections available to a well-to-do New Yorker.

What follows isn’t exactly the madcap hi-jinks promised by the trailer, where the two play ineffective detectives snooping on her husband, but instead a much more meditative experience. Laura autopilots her way through her life, getting fist bumped by her husband at parties, putting up with the Jenny Slate’s inane drivel as another parent her kid’s school, until her dad drags her out of her shell again.

We Feel You Laura

Murray is the obvious draw here, playing somewhat to his apparent real life reputation, coasting along, charming each and every women he meets, magically divining some inner knowledge about them that completely entrances them all in the process. It’s a “performance” that charms everyone but his daughter, who still harbors some resentment from when he cheated on her mother years before.

Jones is great as the put upon Laura, but the elevated lifestyles of all the characters’ can feel a little hollow. No one is worrying about rent and Laura’s mother and grandmother (a delightful cameo from Barbara Bain!) live in apparent luxury. It’s all just background so Jones and Murray can head out for their little chats and a sneaky getaway to Mexico whenever they want. All of it ends up feeling a little out of touch. A scene where Murray gets out of a traffic stop because he knows the cop’s father, and grandfather, also feels a little misjudged, considering the political climate in the U.S. currently.

You Know How To Whistle Don’t You?

For the most part On The Rocks still works because, 1) it’s Bill Murray, 2) he is charming as all hell, and 3) Jones is a great foil. Some of the most charming moments in the whole film are just the two of them whistling. I just wish they were given something a little more meaty to play with.

A (very) light comedy of rich New Yorkers, On The Rocks is entertaining for the time you’ll spend with it but lacks the staying power to stick with you for too long afterwards.

On The Rocks
96 minutes
Director: Sofia Coppola
Writer: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Jessica Henwick, Jenny Slate, Liyanna Muscat, and Alexandra Reimer

On the Rocks is now streaming on Apple TV+

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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