Movie #61 2021: On the Rocks (2020)

Something weird happened regarding my interest in seeing this movie. Not only do I love Rashida Jones and Bill Murray, but I also love irreverent dark comedies, and I’m trying my hardest to see more movies directed by women in 2021. Yet for some reason… I had no interest in seeing On the Rocks even though it ticks every single one of those boxes.

Then, the Golden Globe nominees were announced, and as part of my research for this article (click), it felt appropriate that I see the film in the unlikely event that Murray won the award in his category. And I ended up being quite surprised that I did!

The two leads (Jones, Murray) play a father and daughter duo who have – up until now – not been particularly close. As Murray’s character suddenly seems more interested in spending quality time with his daughter, she reveals to him that she believes her husband (Marlon Wayans) might be cheating on her. In an effort to solve the mystery and also spend more time together, Murray suggests they tail her husband to get to the root of his so-called ‘affair’, and thus it becomes a cat and mouse tale complete with rather comedic father/daughter bonding.

First off, someone get me Rashida Jones’ entire wardrobe in this movie STAT. The costuming department did a really great job here at making Jones’ character seem as normal as possible – there are no Manolo Blahniks or unbelievably purchased Versace ensembles here. That in itself is incredibly unique for a movie set in New York about a mildly bougie writer, amirite?

Not only are the costumes extremely well picked out, but the set dressing and the cinematography are really rather brilliant too. With her signature muted style filtering through very strongly, On the Rocks feels like Sofia Coppola’s love letter to New York City, which happens to be her place of birth and her current place of residence. The things she chooses to capture of the city’s streets are romantic yet ordinary and wonderful to look at, making NY feel like its own character in this movie. 

Jones does an excellent job of playing the defeated, moody New York writer, but of course Bill Murray is the scene stealer. He plays the father almost as an amalgamation of his characters from Groundhog Day and Scrooged, but with a little love thrown in for good measure. It’s no surprise to me that he got the aforementioned Golden Globe nod.

I’ve seen some criticism here and there that this film is tonally confusing, but for me it hit the dark comedy nail on the head. It feels quite light-hearted for a Sofia Coppola movie, and the mix of serious overarching story with Murray’s wisecracks is delightful. I could watch these two leads just sitting down drinking martinis for the full 2 hours. 

Although it’s not the most memorable film I’ve ever seen, On the Rocks’ minimalist, bourgeoisie overtones are right up my street. An entertaining and lovely movie indeed. 

…and now I really miss my Dad ❤️

On the Rocks is available to stream on Apple TV+ in the UK.

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