Review: On the Rocks

Score: B

Director: Sofia Coppola

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

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Rated: R

Our foremost purveyor of rich people problems is back, and this time she doesn't have much to say. But the power of Bill Murray and Rashida Jones' charm is such that even a paper-thin script that On the Rocks remains a delight throughout.

Sofia Coppola's latest is a strangely low-stakes affair, about a disaffected writer and mother (Rashida Jones), who begins to wonder whether the late nights and long trips her husband (Marlon Wayans) takes are just part of the deal with starting a new business, or if he's cheating on her. Laura feels she has few friends she can lean on, which is true. Her mother is kind of cold, her sister is bitchy and her closest gal pal (Jenny Slate) is self-absorbed. Thus she turns to the biggest cheater she knows: her dad (Bill Murray). He's all too eager to bust his son-in-law and to spend time with his daughter, whom he hasn't seen a lot of lately.

Much of On the Rocks is a hangout movie, and what a hangout. Who amongst us wouldn't want to snack in a vintage roadster with Bill Murray and Rashida Jones? And kudos to the location scout who found that Mexican resort. Getting drunk and snooping around a beachside hotel with these two looks like a blast. But that's all it is. Missing is the compelling mystery of The Virgin Suicides, the crushing loneliness of Lost in Translation or even the impending danger of The Beguiled. Everything that happens is entirely predictable, but enjoyable all the same.

This feels like the first Sofia Coppola movie not to contend for any major awards, and that's fine. More of our celebrated writer-directors should use their pull to make low-key movies with people they like in gorgeous locations. If Adam Sandler can do it, why not an Academy Award-winning filmmaker? Coppola is a splashy name for the first movie under the A24-AppleTV+ partnership, but it's a lightweight project that feels right at home on a streaming service for you to fire up on a weekend afternoon.

*This film is currently playing in select theaters and will premiere globally on Apple+ on October 23.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.