Lovably quirky father-daughter dynamic drives comedy 'On the Rocks'

  • Felix (Bill Murray), right, helps daughter Laura (Rashida Jones) investigate her husband in "On the Rocks."

    Felix (Bill Murray), right, helps daughter Laura (Rashida Jones) investigate her husband in "On the Rocks." Courtesy of Apple

  • Felix (Bill Murray), right, helps daughter Laura (Rashida Jones) investigate her husband in "On the Rocks."

    Felix (Bill Murray), right, helps daughter Laura (Rashida Jones) investigate her husband in "On the Rocks." Courtesy of Apple

 
 
Updated 10/1/2020 10:09 AM

"On the Rocks" - ★ ★ ★

"Don't you act normal around any woman?" an exasperated Laura asks her scoundrel senior citizen father, Felix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

No, he doesn't. He can't.

Felix, a charming playboy played by Wilmette's Bill Murray, has dedicated his life to pursuing women, an avocation that has wrecked his marriage, but nonetheless endears him to Laura, played by Rashida Jones.

This lovably quirky father-daughter dynamic propels Sofia Coppola's slight and amusing comedy "On the Rocks" into a romance of sorts. Well, at least a film about romance.

Laura, an author with writer's block and two adorable daughters, begins to suspect her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) might be having an affair.

He has been logging long hours starting up his own never-defined company and flying to meet clients. She finds a woman's cosmetics bag in his luggage.

Dad instantly assumes the worst. ("He's a man! It's nature!" he says.) He encourages Laura to check Dean's phone records, then come with him and they will tail Dean around the Big Apple to investigate.

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Murray and Jones share a sparkling chemistry and play off each other with flair and fun, although Felix comes off more like a wealthy, boozing, eccentric old uncle who can barely conceal his constant leering under a gentlemanly roguish façade.

"On the Rocks" marks the second pairing of Murray with Coppola, reuniting from their 2003 critical hit "Lost in Translation."

Murray has white hair now, but still possesses his trademark twinkle in the eye suggesting he's in on a grand joke that the rest of us desperately want to share.

"On the Rocks" gives Murray ample occasions to warble a tune (as if he could ever top his "SNL" lounge-lizard song to the "Star Wars" theme).

Coppola's screenplay combines poignancy (Felix tells Laura, "I saw who you were," when she was a toddler) with verbal cliches ("I can't do that!" "It's crazy!" "I trust you!") and a few visual crutches as well (brightly colored balloons and the obligatory car chase).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"You are mine," Felix says to little Laura, "until you get married. Then, you're still mine."

He's wrong.

Daughters never belong to their dads. They are only on loan for a brief time.

That Felix finds an inventive way to extend that loan makes "On the Rocks" one extremely neat movie.

• • •

Starring: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans

Directed by: Sofia Coppola

Other: An Apple Original Films and A24 release at Chicago's Century Centre Cinema, and on Apple TV+ Oct. 23. Rated R for language and sexual situations. 97 minutes

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