Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans, both known for their comedic talent, take it down a notch and play a New York middle-class couple who seem to have disconnected in more than one way. In walks Bill Murray with some serious dad-jokes and playboy-vibes to get the party started, but in a more nuanced and dare I say, sophisticated way. Sofia Coppola is back with her newest, and most commercial film to date.
Laura (Jones – ‘Parks and Recreation‘) thinks she’s happily hitched, but when her husband Dean (Wayans – ‘Sextuplets‘) starts logging late hours at the office with a new co-worker, Laura begins to fear the worst. She turns to the one man she suspects may have insight: her charming, impulsive father Felix (Murray – ‘The Dead Don’t Die‘), who insists they investigate the situation. As the two begin prowling New York at night, careening from uptown parties to downtown hotspots, they discover at the heart of their journey lies their own relationship.
When we first meet the rather naive Laura in her beautiful NY apartment, she seems stressed, defeated, and even lonely. Her daily routine doesn’t really help with getting out of this downward spiral, but she keeps herself busy with her youngest and gets easily distracted while worrying over her writer’s block. Dean, on the other hand, seems to be having the time of his life, but barely shares any of it with his wife. You respect his success, but he’s a bit selfish. This classic heteronormative household is waiting to implode, and just like that, Laura’s father, Felix comes along, to bring some unexpected excitement and support into her life.
Murray is known for playing the goofiest characters with bone dry humour. As soon as he pops on screen in ‘On the Rocks‘, you can tell he’s matured. It’s a nice change of pace in the film’s rather repetitive first third, and as soon as he exits stage, you already wish we would follow his daily life instead. He knows how to command your attention. Just like his on screen daughter says, “it’s must be nice being you“, when trying to bribe himself out of a speeding ticket, after chasing his son-in-law down the streets of NY, ‘Fast and Furious’-style. Some surprising father-to-daughter moments really lift up the entire film, where Jones’ and Murray’s on screen connection feels more sincere than the subzero chemistry Jones shares with Wayans.
Coppola also wrote her newest film. You feel the need to hug Laura, and you’d wish Felix was your cool dad, but not everything is as simple as it seems. As Laura waits for the right moment to finally ask Felix why he left her mother, it seems like father dearest wants to make up for his wrongs, while overprotecting his daughter when he notices that she’s in need of some loving. “We all just wanna be loved.“, as Felix tells his daughter.
On The Rocks isn’t here to shake things up, but it’s also something you don’t expect from the Academy Award-winning director. As if she’s stepped away from her more indie approach of storytelling, and found a way to embrace the commercial aspect of filmmaking. An affecting buddy-comedy, that takes the insecurities of life and deals with them as we go.
In select cinemas *nationally from October 2
Releasing globally from October 23 exclusively on Apple TV+
*Cinematic release excludes Victoria
Review – ‘On The Rocks’
Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), September 23, 2020. Rating: R. Running time: 96 min.
PRODUCTION: An A24 (theatrical) and Apple TV+ (TV) release of an A24, American Zoetrope production. Producers: Sofia Coppola (p.g.a.), Youree Henley (p.g.a.). Executive producers: Roman Coppola, Mitch Glazer, Fred Roos.
CREW: Director/screenplay: Sofia Coppola. Editing: Sarah Flack. Cinematography: Philippe Le Sourd. Score: Phoenix.
WITH: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Jenny Slate, Jessica Henwick, Barbara Bain, Nadia Dajani, Musto Pelinkovicci, Jules Willcox, Alexandra Mary Reimer.
Cover photo: (L-R) Rashida Jones, Bill Murray Photo Courtesy of Apple