On the Rocks movie poster
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On the Rocks
On the Rocks movie poster

On the Rocks Movie Review

After a three-year hiatus, Sofia Coppola returns with the quaint On the Rocks, a breezy, engrossing comedy-drama that is neither funny nor particularly dramatic but works nonetheless. Arguably Coppola’s most accessible film since 2003’s Lost in Translation (also starring Bill Muray), On the Rocks isn’t essential cinema, but it certainly is enjoyable.

The movie stars Rashida Jones as a wife and mother whose life is in a rut, with a husband (Marlon Wayans) who is too busy traveling for work to notice. Enter her father (Bill Muray), an unabashed playboy and flirt, who leans in hard to her fleeting suspicion that her husband is cheating on her.

I’d say the star of the show is Murray, whose charm and playfulness penetrates every corner of the production, but that’d be unfair to Jones, who matches the cherished actor step for step. More importantly, and in part thanks to the excellent screenplay by Coppola, their chemistry is absolute fire; the pair act as if they’ve always been father and daughter, their banter, their organic pivots from humor to seriousness and back again priceless.

If On the Rocks were a movie about nothing, and you could argue that it is about not a whole lot, you could rely on Murray and Jones to make the experience worth it.

On the Rocks plays like a romantic-comedy where most of the action centers around father and daughter rather than the romance at hand. As a result, Wayans’ character feels like an afterthought; he exists to propel Jones and Murray forward, but Coppola largely seems uninterested in establishing him as a defined person--or his relationship with his wife as all that important.

This works for a while, until Coppola oddly attempts to wrap things up with a sugary sweet bow. Suddenly, the ambitious writer finds herself trapped with a film lacking conflict, a resolution best reserved for mainstream romantic comedies. It’s a disappointing finish for On the Rocks--not the finish itself, but how it finishes. It all feels very pedestrian.

On the Rocks is an amusing, entertaining little film marred by an imperfect ending. Murray and Jones are fantastic, and Coppola’s talent is on full display, and yet it’s hard to rave about a movie as inconsequential as this.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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