I pity any actor who appears in a Coppola/Murray film. You would have to accept that no matter what a great job you will do—you won’t outshine the dynamic duo.

In On the Rocks Bill Murray is the quintessential louche. He’s father to Laura (Rashida Jones) who is having doubts about her husband Dean’s (Marlon Wayans) fidelity. But is Felix the right man to help her? He’s clearly a man who knows men, or at least that what he tells us. He’s an inveterate flirt with myriad anecdotes about males and their sexual (aka primitive) urges. But he’s put an earwig into Laura who, despite her misgivings, finds herself caught up in a series of Clouseauesque escapades. She loves her father but bubbling away is her anger at his divorce and desertion. Felix is a difficult father to hate – he is generous and thoughtful; he wants to protect her, from a man like, well, like him. But is he projecting or compensating? On the Rocks’ focus isn’t the relationship between Laura and Dean but between Laura and Felix.

The movie brushes with some big issues. Modern marriage. Trust. Mid-career frustration. Men who posit that sex is part of the survival instinct–primal and uncontrollable—and therefore monogamy is impossible. Daughters of divorce and their relationships with their fathers. It’s a heady Electra brew.

Murray is charming and annoying. Their New York lifestyle is aspirational and annoying. Laura’s inability to write her next book is annoying and understandable. Laura’s “friend” Vanessa (Jenny Slate) with her incessant love monologue is annoying and amusing. What isn’t annoying is the music—gotta love Phoenix’s “Identical” (listen for it during the credits).

Speaking of credits – great to see so many females in senior roles. I’ve become a credit-scourer since The Assistant. Which, aside from the whole female thing has highlighted some head scratchers ie why so many voice actors? Oh, I really had to look for the costume “designers”, tucked away in the middle, because the styling (hair and makeup) is on point.

Anyway, it’s a close but not intimate movie – perhaps because New York is no Tokyo. The direction and screenplay are tight, really tight. It’s a quiet movie that more than whispers at you. But not in the Lost in Translation way.

On the Rocks is the perfect popcorn, Saturday afternoon kinda movie. And afterwards, I’ll bet you dust off Lost in Translation. I know I did.

ON THE ROCKS is screening on Apple TV+ from October 23.

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