Keep your Marvel extravaganzas, your fast and furious madness, your latest reboot or Tom Cruise having another close shave with death for no event is quite as spectacular, quite as amazing, and quite as euphoric as when the legendary Bill Murray returns to the big screen and stars in a new film. Once again, it has been a while Bill, but we are so glad to see you back because Lord knows, we need you now more than ever. What’s more, he has reteamed with Sofia Coppola after their incredible collaboration for Lost In Translation 17 years ago (how the time has flown) for another jovial, whimsical, and reflective film that while never hitting the heights of their previous encounter, is still well worth your time.
Swapping the kaleidoscopic, dense surroundings of Tokyo for the more familiar streets of New York City, Murray plays Felix, a well-to-do bachelor whose copious exploits over the years have landed him in hot water many-a-time. Not least with his daughter Laura (Rashida Jones) whose strained relationship with him has never been the same since he cheated on her mother. But Laura finds herself in something of a similar position: she fears that husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) may be cheating on her given the exorbitant amount of time he is now away from her and their daughters. Enter misogynist Felix who has a plan to catch Dean in the act and prove all men are pretty appalling.
From the outset, On The Rocks has charm and charisma in spades, reflecting of Murray’s central character without all the horrible, toxic centre. Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of New York, its streets hazed and welcoming as we follow Murray and Jones on their quest to find truth and justice. Like a warm blanket on a cold winters eve, it’s impossible not to be entranced but it and yet, it doesn’t quite come together as it should.
Showcasing her wonderful expertise for character and relationships, Coppola excels once more in that department but for perhaps the first time in her career, the film never quite feels like hers. There’s a detachment throughout that feels off where, in her previous efforts, you wouldn’t even question it. The central story has a flatness to it in places that you can’t shake and while it doesn’t harm your enjoyment, you may be forgetting it once it’s all over a little too quickly.
Still, we have Murray and Jones who keep things ticking along nicely enough to keep us enthralled even when it buckles: Jones, one of Hollywood’s most underrated actresses, is on top form here with her usual impeccable comic timing that dovetails so wonderfully against Murray’s acerbic wit. And on the former/soon-to-back Ghostbuster, what more can you say except he’s perfection as ever: his character is appalling in so many ways, a man of a bygone era that highlights just how far we have come – and still have to go – with toxic masculinity but in his hands, somehow, we find the good in him, even though we know we definitely should not. The scoundrel.
Comedy, Drama | USA, 2020 | 15 | 23rd October 2020 | Apple TV+ | Dir.Sofia Coppola | Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans