The goal of Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks is for its characters to find light and reconnection. Laura (played by Rashida Jones) and her father Felix (played by Bill Murray) are both trying to find those two elements. Laura is trying to find that in her career, her lifestyle and with her husband Dean (played by Marlon Wayans). Felix is trying to find that in reconnecting with Laura and determining if she is happy in her life and in her marriage. Both Murray and Jones are heartfelt in this lighthearted comedy with some edgy scenes. The absurdity of Murray’s performance which causes his daughter’s character to experience moments of humiliation and embarrassment creates an interesting spectacle.
In the plot of the film, the focus is strongly on Laura. She is mom who has a background in writing as a career. However, she has transitioned to a stay-at-home mom to her two kids while her husband Dean has become the new workaholic. Often, however, she starts to question Dean’s behavior. Many times, he is spacey, always saying he is out working late or taking last minute trips. Laura feels he is not focused on her and seems to have his priorities in other places instead of trying to focus on her as his wife. When Laura’s father Felix comes into her life and they begin to have meals together and engage in social activities, Felix convinces Laura that Dean may be up to no good. Laura questions if Felix is the right one to help navigate her struggles. In the past, he has struggled to maintain relationships due to his own ego and life in New York City. Still, Laura starts to look up to Felix, because he is creative with adventures which is helping her find some joy in her life. At the same time, she is also questioning Dean’s behavior based on the evidence of her father’s spying schemes.
On the Rocks connects in many ways to Coppola’s 2003 masterpiece Lost in Translation (which also starred Bill Murray). On the Rocks is as entertaining as Lost in Translation, though in my opinion, Lost in Translation is (slightly) better. Lost in Translation was original, and On the Rocks is almost a repeat, just in a different city featuring different relationships. Lost in Translation was about two people that become friends in a country where they are lost, and On the Rocks is about a father and daughter trying to find resolution in a big city. Both films are about of two people connecting in order to find meaning in their own lives. Overall, On the Rocks is still a stellar film.
Murray is the perfect choice for On the Rocks to play the satirical, opinionated, but caring father. He has that laid-back charming tone with the smart mouth in many quirky moments. Murray is talented at playing this character that goes above and beyond with expensive restaurants and clothes, and acts like it is no big deal at all cost-wise. Also, Felix is a risk-taker and cares about his daughter being happy despite his cynical past. Murray delivers a true knockout performance as he did with Lost in Translation and I could not help but laugh at his humor and his bizarre attitude.
I felt On the Rocks was very touching as it was easy to relate to the feelings Jones demonstrated in her performance. During the film’s introduction to her life, her character feels boring and not a priority. On the Rocks will make some laugh and some cry, but also leave you pondering what makes people feel connected in life. Laura wants connection to her husband. Felix wants connection to his daughter and for his daughter to feel connected to her marriage with Dean. The film’s dynamic had me deep in thought over what truly holds the key to a person’s happiness. I give this Coppola classic three and a half stars.