Film review: Bill Murray makes “On the Rocks” a fun watch

Sometimes big things come in small packages. This year, audiences are treated to a small yet charming film courtesy of A24 and Apple TV+.

“On the Rocks” is a dramedy written and directed by Sofia Coppola. It follows Laura (Rashida Jones), an author who suspects her businessman husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) of having an affair. When her seasoned playboy father (Bill Murray) enlists himself to tail Dean with her, the two spend nights connecting over their relationships or lack thereof.

This marks the return of Murray to a Coppola film after 2003’s Academy Award-winning hit “Lost in Translation.” It is nearly impossible to not fall in love with Murray in this film. Any time he greets his daughter with “kiddo,” the distinctive “Murray charm” switches on and we can’t blame his acquaintances for getting lost in his charisma. 

This movie is a comfortable watch. Adorable kids, a hilarious Jenny Slate and fantastic scenery make nearly every second of “On the Rocks” a time to smile. The soothing soundtrack and the cool blue palette during scenes at night are borderline therapeutic. Compared to Coppola’s heavier films like her debut “The Virgin Suicides,” the tone is quite playful given the central plot. The story is told only over a few days, and at 96 minutes is a rapid watch.

Intentionally or not, “On the Rocks” serves as a worthy love letter to New York City as many of the screwball comedies before it do. The dimly-lit bistros of the Big Apple offer a cozy reprieve to the harsh reality of the current situation.

It is hard to define what exactly the movie is. Is it a rom-com? A parody of a rom-com? Whatever it is, this familiar story is brought to contemporary audiences complete with social media milestones and a disoriented Roomba.

To compare this “On the Rocks” to her other cult films like “Lost in Translation” and “The Bling Ring” is unnecessary. While the movie is bite-sized, it is not lacking in flavor. Whether a project like this is considered “minor” or not, Coppola’s visual style and screenplay characteristics are recognizably endearing.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Daymon Wayans played Dean. It was actually Marlon Wayans, his brother. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Welcome to the discussion. Before posting, please read our discussion guidelines.