There is still not much to be found when it comes to new movies that are being released exclusively in theaters. But, when a movie that is due to release on a streaming service is shown in theaters early, I’ll definitely be first in line. “On The Rocks” is the latest from prolific writer/director, Sofia Coppola, that follows Bill Murray and Rashida Jones as a father-daughter duo, on a comedic romp through New York City.
Laura (Jones) is a struggling writer who begins to suspect her husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans), is having an affair. Enter her eccentric and estranged father, Felix (Murray), who launches a large-scale investigation that involves tailing Dean, tracking his credit card purchases and taking a trip to Mexico. Based on this loose description of events that unfold in the film, you can gather that “On The Rocks” is a ridiculous comedy, which also has a lot of charm, mainly from the magnetic performance from Bill Murray.
However, the movie does take some time to get going. It takes about a half an hour to be introduced to Felix, which in a film that’s only 96 minutes long, feels like an eternity. This first act drags because of its monotony. The main focus is placed on Laura, and while the monotony is designed to make the audience feel the rut that she is in, it doesn’t make it any more interesting to watch. There isn’t much going on here, aside from building Laura’s character, but the point the film was trying to make about her could have been accomplished in about half the time. At around the 30 minute mark of the film, I was starting to feel skeptical about it and where it was going.
But then, like an angel from the heavens, Bill Murray enters and drags Laura, as well as the movie, out of the mud and into the easy, breezy and casual comedy that it is. Once Felix is established as a main character, I didn’t even really care about the reasons why the father and daughter were romping around New York, because I was too busy smiling ear-to-ear at how fun the movie had become.
Bill Murray is remarkable, so much so that if the Academy didn’t hate comedies, he would be a best actor candidate. He demands the attention of the viewer once he enters a scene. He’s a charming, witty and caring character, despite the many flaws that are revealed about him throughout the film. He’s a simple character with simple traits, but it is executed to perfection by Murray and Coppola.
The final hour of this short runtime is executed with brilliant pacing, smart set pieces and gags, and an actually heartwarming connection between Felix and Laura. The two have brilliant chemistry and, at times, it felt as if they were a real father and daughter. Their conversations escalate from cold and distant to deep and emotional as they start to unravel more about each other. Their own insecurities serve as the catalyst for their journey, but it brings them to a place of mutual understanding, after a well explored history between the two. It’s heartwarming and hilarious. What more can you ask for?
Would I be telling you to rush out to see “On The Rocks” if the world was normal? No, I wouldn’t. Then again, I won’t even tell you to rush out to see it now because it will be on Apple TV+ on Oct. 23. If you have Apple TV+, “On The Rocks” should be a no brainer on your watch list. It’s sweet, hilarious and exactly what I needed right now, with so much uncertainty looming over the semester. Grab a few friends, some snacks and enjoy an easy, on-the-mind experience that is guaranteed to make you smile.