On The Rocks
Jacob Richardson | 2/10/2020
On The Rocks is a fizzy, funny and insightful caper. Anchored in an entrancing chemistry between Rashida Jones and Bill Murray, this delightful romp is supported by an effortlessly witty repartee.
Laura (Rashida Jones) has noticed some changes in her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans). He is working longer hours, seems surprised to see her when he wakes, and is travelling a lot - often with his young and attractive account manager. Laura turns to the one man she thinks might have insight into the telltale signs of an affair - her philandering father Felix (Bill Murray), whose charm and wealth are only matched by his conviction that Dean is betraying his daughter.
Directed by Sofia Coppola, On The Rocks certainly has overtones of her other famous Bill Murray starrer, Lost In Translation. Certainly, Murray’s Felix feels much like the same character as in that film - a suave, womanizing and confident drunkard, albeit here a little more bronze, and a little less dispirited. Comparatively, Laura is full of hope and less cynicism. This creates a fun dynamic between the two - Laura as effectively the straight man to Murray’s rambunctious womanizer cum detective.
On The Rocks straddles the divide between a story with something to tell, and a funny and witty two hours. From a plot perspective, we can kind of predict what is going to happen - she’ll suspect her husband of cheating, her and her father will work together to try and find proof (him enthusiastically, her reluctantly), and then they’ll ultimately either discover he isn’t, or that he is. The fact that elements still surprise us is a testament to the script - to the little moments of freshness peppered through an otherwise stale structure.
So too do Murray and Jones then elevate this. Their chemistry is undeniable, and they bring a cohesive vivacity to the material that sucks you in. When the plot becomes unrealistic, or on the verge of treading stale ground, the pair give you something utterly entertaining to hold onto.
Visually this is a beautiful film, capturing the quintessence of New York City in muted tones. The entire thing feels luxe - like a big, fancy blanket that you can wrap yourself in and while away the hours with a thunderstorm outside. That makes this a very easy film to lose yourself in, as does the performance and the dialogue. It also makes it very easy to forgive the movie for its foibles.
On The Rocks isn’t as good as Lost In Translation, it’s closest comparative, but it is an absolutely enjoyable, funny piece of New York construct.