Imagine Bill Murray… as your father. Imagine Bill Murray as a free-wheeling playboy who also broke up your happy family. Can you also imagine Bill Murray as a tour de force, who steals every single scene in which he appears? Now you’ve got the highlights of On the Rocks, the latest feature film written and directed by Sofia Coppola.
Murray appears as the on-screen father of Rashida Jones, and their interactions are priceless whenever they’re together, whether they’re positive or negative. Much like actual families. And just like real families, parents’ interactions with their children can sometimes contradict their true feelings for their kids, even if they’re actually trying to help.
On the Rocks follows Laura (Jones), who is seemingly facing a midlife crisis. As the mother of two young children who’s attempting to balance a busy schedule while struggling from writer’s block, she’s starting to feel unpretty by her seemingly uninterested husband (Marlon Wayans). Enter Felix (Murray), stage right. As a free spirit, he’s always hitting on every woman he runs into, so he recognizes when someone is being cheated on — this time it’s his daughter. Full of innumerable theories and stories, his seeds of discontent are firmly planted, leading them tag the hubby’s phone, put a hotwatch on his credit cards and other various ways to spy on him. Unfortunately, these are the only great moments of this movie. Naturally, they are also the only parts of this movie shown in its trailers, which I happened to have seen at least 500,000 times during the past three months..
The remainder of the film really is unimportant. I definitely didn’t want to watch yet another story concerning a young couple breaking up — especially during a global pandemic. But I really did enjoy Murray’s role. He’s so likable. He’s very persuasive. And he can’t seem to be any more full of himself…
“I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
A24 had a limited release of this film in movie theaters, but most people will see it airing on the Apple TV+ platform. While I will ALWAYS be a huge fan of Bill Murray’s filmography, his character development here didn’t offer too many arcs, other than being a wild one. What kind of craziness would it be like to have the actor-comedian as a father? Most likely, he’d be way too much to handle on a consistent basis. And much like Laura, it would probably take a whole lot of effort to break through his tough, protective shell, for only a few moments.
Murray very well could receive more than a few acting nominations for his role, and I’d be incredibly OK with that. He’s been better in other movies, but this one seems fitting for the actor in his current stage of life. He seems to be enjoying it as much as possible away from starring in major films, often seen rooting on his son, Luke, who is currently an assistant coach-recruiter at the University of Louisville, at basketball games. And when he’s not reciting “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Wrigley Field, he’s making quick cameos here and there (most recently in Zombieland: Double Tap).
As far as I’m concerned, the screen time of Felix isn’t long enough in this dramedy. But the shots in which he appears are incredibly boozy. They’re strong, but they won’t knock you out.