Wednesday, October 21, 2020

On the Rocks - Movie Review

The Movie: On the Rocks

The Director: Sofia Coppola

The Cast: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans, Jenny Slate, 

The Story: A young mother reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father on an adventure through New York.

The Review:
The combination of Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray, and Rashida Jones was pretty much a can't miss scenario for me. Each are fantastic in their own right so of course putting them together was inevitably going to be a success and for me it absolutely was. The entire film is very laid back and whimsical which is punctuated by Murray's endless charm and effortlessly cool personality.

Murray is the type of performer who is funny just in his existence, he doesn't have to try to be that, so everything else on top of his humor just gives depth and a likability that is incomparable. What he does with this role as a life long playboy and sometimes father is petty amazing stuff as you start to see layers and layers of the character's mentality reveal themselves as the story progresses. Ultimately, he loves his daughter and will do anything for her even if it means taking her on an unexpected adventure that may not mean what she thinks it means.

Rashida Jones, to me, is one of those hidden gems in cinema. I've felt forever that she should have been a breakout star in some fashion although I think she ended up having a stronger career on television. In this movie she plays Laura, a woman who is a wife, a mother, a daughter, an author, and a person who doesn't believe she is any of those things at this point in her life. Jones absolutely nails who this person is and in a way that is relatable and funny at just the right times. Laura's husband Dean is played by Marlon Wayans who I can't recall ever seeing as anything other than some comedic character and I was actually impressed with what I saw.

There are also a few really good supporting roles in the movie the first of which I'll mention is Jenny Slate who is spot on perfect as Laura's friend who is only good to be around in small doses. She can bring that sort of bubbling under the surface energy that makes you love her but also want to back away before something happens. Jessica Henwick is also in the movie! If you don't know who she is, you need to revisit Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Marvel's Netflix shows and she's also going to be in the next Matrix movie. She's amazing! Too bad she only has a very small part in this movie.

A couple of other characters that Coppola gives a ton of personality too are the city of New York and Bill Murray's car. The way she shows off New York City, you can just feel the energy and the magic that it is capable of and every bit of it just looks so beautiful through her lens. The car, a classic Alfa Romeo convertible that looks and acts like it has lived just as much of a life as Felix, Murray's character, that you can't help but want to take it for a spin even if you know it might break down at any moment.

Aside from the humor and fun, Coppola actually has a lot to say, as she usually does. Once you dig into the story, there are layers upon layers about family, relationships, trust, aging, and just generally being lost in a sea of existence which I think is the part that should really hit home for everyone. Laura is used as the primary embodiment of, I don't want to call it mid life crisis, it's more just a general malaise that a person can fall into when they feel like the world and their life is getting away from them. Rashida Jones does such a good job of putting all of that on screen and that's where the relatability of her performance comes from.

As the story unfolds, Coppola allows you as the viewer to get to know each of the characters in obvious ways and also in ways that just sort of seep in and bubble up nicely by the time she ties it all together and puts a bow on it. The director creates so many moments. Moments that are funny without being silly, happy without being sappy, and loving without being overly emotional. There are a couple interesting twists and turns to the story although the biggest twist for me was how Coppola perfectly lands the ending which I felt was absolutely delightful.

It's weird how refreshing it was to feel so happy and satisfied not just with the movie but with who the people in the movie end up being. It's kind of weird to explain but, after it was over, I just felt so calm and satisfied and happy, it was almost magical and I suppose that's a testament to who Sofia Coppola is as a filmmaker.

The Verdict:
On the Rocks is an absolute delight and a showcase of Sofia Coppola's gifts as a storyteller even as she shows off something you might not have been expecting. I think this is one of those movies that will stick with me for quite a while.

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