Actor Bill Murray and screenwriter/director Sofia Coppola found their way to Oscar attention with Lost in Translation, but they tread a lesser path with their new pairing called On the Rocks. A slight premise limits them, but the duo nonetheless provides an enjoyable jaunt that covers several topics and ultimately solidifies itself by celebrating father-daughter bonding.
With her own experience as the daughter of a famous man, Coppola devises a character named Laura, whose challenges include dealing with a dad that everyone knows. Felix, an expert on philandering, becomes Laura’s advisor when she questions her husband’s faithfulness. Played by Rashida Jones—also the real-life daughter of a famous man named Quincy, Laura’s doubts lead her to several revelations.
These newfound, talky insights about hot sex, marriage, and quality time come in a mild comic format, highlighted by Murray. Sticking to his own style, Murray handles humor in a distinct, low key manner that repeatedly makes people smile. He brings many aspects of himself to the role, especially with his affable and sincere appreciation of people that quickly turns strangers into friends.
A documentary called The Bill Murray Stories showcases the actor’s warm way with people he comes across, much in the fashion Felix displays during On the Rocks. Reno locals experienced similar interactions when Murray worked in the area on a movie called Kingpin. He dropped in on one business and helped toss pizza dough; he played golf brilliantly at a local course, and on set while bowling, he always got strikes even when the part called for a gutter ball (editors fixed that on screen).
Murray’s real-life charisma shines on screen and perfectly suits his role in On the Rocks. Joining him, Jones easily moves front and center with an appealing presence after numerous likeable supporting roles in shows like Parks and Recreation. As in her other films as writer-director, Coppola handles her actors and scenes with confidence. She moves her camera smoothly through New York City streets, catching the city’s upscale centers. While her other movies often involve more complicated interactions, On the Rocks holds its own as slice-of-(way upper crust) life and the travails it presents.