Starring: Rashida Jones, Bill Murray, Marlon Wayans
Director: Sofia Coppola
Running Time: 96 mins
On The Rocks is an American film about a young New York mother who begins to suspect her constantly busy husband of having an affair, reluctantly launching an investigation egged on by her father.
I’ll admit that I’ve never been the biggest fan of Sofia Coppola’s films, but On The Rocks is a completely different story. A funny, charming and clever comedy-drama with great performances across the board, this is a lot of fun, and still has the same emotional depth as some of the director’s more serious works.
At first, the movie seems like a sweet albeit unoriginal look at a woman stuck in a rut, with the story relying too heavily on quirky genre tropes to let Coppola’s style really run free.
Rashida Jones is wonderful from the first minute, but we see surprisingly little of her character’s real personality until the arrival of her father, played by Bill Murray. Once Murray enters the picture, both he and Jones are absolute dynamite, and writer-director is really able to stretch her legs.
The overarching story follows Jones as she reluctantly begins to suspect her husband of having an affair, while her father excitedly gets in on the investigation. However, more than that, the film’s real heart lies in its assessment of family through a complex but thoroughly entertaining father-daughter relationship.
Murray plays a confident, charismatic and manipulative older man whose charm is impossible to resist. As he enchants everybody in his sight, Jones rolls her eyes, in the knowledge of his true character.
Not only charismatic, but a caring father too, the illusion of Murray’s charm is only shattered when you realise what his real angle is – meddling in other people’s lives and trying to project his own worldview onto everyone else.
The back-and-forth between father and daughter as they become deeper embroiled in a bizarre spy game is what really makes On The Rocks, and Sofia Coppola is able to deliver that story with such great humour and emotional worth.
There’s something of a Woody Allen movie about On The Rocks, except Coppola plumps for more timely, real-world themes about marriage, female independence and the generation gap instead of Allen’s full-blown existentialism.
But it’s the film’s humour that proves the real icing on the cake, as Coppola delivers a sumptuously sweet story that will make you laugh all the way through. Sometimes it’s more serious humour, and sometimes it’s a little more silly, but it’s always grounded brilliantly on the film’s characters and central ideas.
Overall, I really enjoyed On The Rocks. Though it gets off to a lukewarm start, the film bursts into life when Rashida Jones and Bill Murray combine, as Sofia Coppola’s excellent screenplay finally begins to show what it’s made of. Funny, insightful, clever and emotional, On The Rocks is right on the money from start to finish, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.8.