On the Rocks

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones both break the father-daughter tradition in Sofia Coppola’s latest entry.

The New York Film Festival is doing drive-in and virtual screenings this year, given the COVID-19 circumstances, and the first movie I’m dishing at the festival online would be Sofia Coppola’s new comedy “On the Rocks.” She reunites with her fellow collaborators Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, both of whom provide fresh chemistry, and a father-daughter story that’s neither formulaic or dull.

Yes, it does deal with the daughter telling her father to grow up, but it is allows them to connect in a somewhat detective story that confirms whether or not an affair is real. I can’t promise you it has the scope and strength of Coppola and Murray’s 2003 opus “Lost in Translation,” but I can promise you it’s certainly much smarter and more respectful towards women than “The Other Woman.”

Jones plays Laura (named after the Frank Sinatra song), who is happily married to Dean (Marlon Wayans) with two kids in New York City. One night, when Dean arrives late from a business trip in London, he kisses his wife in bed, and acts so surprised to see her. And then, she finds a woman’s toiletry case in his suitcase, which he claims is his assistant Fiona’s (Jessica Henwick), who couldn’t fit it in her bag.

She informs her eccentric playboy father Felix (Murray) about her suspicions on her husband, who is on business trip to Los Angeles. He suggests she follows her husband around when he gets back. His plans for incognito include a Caviar supply kit and his 1961 Ferrari, which provides the movie’s funniest gags. I won’t spoil all the jokes, but some of it reminded me of the shabby VW bus from “Little Miss Sunshine.”

“On the Rocks” may tickle you, but it’s not a laugh fest, because it allows Jones to us her sincere emotions and smart attitude to make Laura a human character. I’ve seen her do it so well on “Parks and Recreation” and “The Social Network,” and in this movie, she has the goods, and never lets you down. It’s not just the affair she’s concerned about, but also she criticizes her father for his previous affair, which broke his family’s hearts.

As usual, Murray is sharp and funny with his wisecracking gimmicks and deadpan attitude, but he’s also written as a well-meaning character by Coppola, close to “Lost in Translation’s”potential, even though it lacks the pure magic of that film. He’s starting to meet his age, and he’s able to adapt with the script and use his talents to entertain us.

And Wayans is sweet and lovable as the husband, who doesn’t seem like he would be a fornicator, given his personality. And the movie eventually confirms whether or not he is unfaithful to his wife. After “Requiem for a Dream,” this is another piece of proof that he’s not just a “Scary Movie” and “Wayans Bros.” comedy star, but also an actor with flexibility.

“On the Rocks” has a low key tone and interesting characters who break tradition from your average movie cliches, and Coppola spikes them with her own personal touch.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

In Select Theaters This Friday

Available for Streaming on AppleTV October 23.

Categories: Adventure, comedy, Drama

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