Bill Murray reunites with writer/director Sophia Coppola in the new comedy “On the Rocks.”
And while this reunion doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of Murray and Coppola’s previous collaboration, “Lost in Translation,” it is still an enjoyable experience with Coppola once again showing Murray’s immense talents.
“On the Rocks” tells the story of Laura (Rashida Jones), a writer whose marriage to Dean (Marlon Wayans) seems to be stuck in a rut. Laura at first chalks it up to Dean’s busy schedule in his new business venture, but eventually she starts to suspect her husband is cheating.
That is when Laura’s father, Felix (Murray), arrives. Felix is a womanizing playboy (he left Laura’s mother for his secretary) whose history makes him the perfect confidante to help Laura determine if her suspicions are correct.
Eager to spend time with his daughter, Felix agrees to help – with the duo setting out on a series of misadventures to tail Dean and either ease Laura’s suspicions or catch him in the act.
Coppola has made a career out of films that study relationships – most of the time involving family members. “On the Rocks” continues that trend with a delightful dynamic between Jones and Murray. Jones is required to do most of the heavy lifting, especially in the first half of the film, and she proves to be up to the challenge.
She’s also able to take a back seat when Murray’s character arrives. Jones manages to both allow Murray to shine and prove to be his equal, creating some genuine chemistry that really gives “On the Rocks” its emotional kick.
Ultimately, the success of “On the Rocks” hinges on Murray, who proves once again how he is one of the most underappreciated actors – a comedian capable of such effortless charm that can balance the laughs with the dramatic moments as well as anyone working today.
Murray makes Felix, warts and all, so likable that it’s easy to see how Laura can get sucked back into his world despite his past indiscretions. Whether it is talking his way out of a ticket or crashing a dinner party he really doesn’t want to attend, Murray makes Felix the kind of character you really want to spend time with – even if you know it might not end well.
Murray’s work here may not have the same depth as his Oscar-nominated performance in “Lost in Translation,” but it is still quite layered – and a role worth awards consideration.
His performance alone is enough to recommend “On the Rocks,” but fortunately this is more than just a one-man show. It’s an honest, and at times very funny, look at relationships.