After doubts of a potential disloyalty with respect to her husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans), his wife (Rashida Jones) is persuaded into gathering further evidence by her charismatic & protective father, with his assistance. The father is played by a rowdy and massively enchanting Bill Murray. As the father-daughter pair adventure into the current conditions of her life, we are welcome to encounter excellent chemistry with crazy hijinks en route.

The connection between Bill Murray and Rashida Jones is absolutely attractive and easily satisfying in this ideal father-daughter film. At 70 years old, Murray keeps on substantiating himself in conveying a very free and sharp persona. What’s more, Jones dives superbly into her authentic yet torn character.

Murray exudes suaveness with every muscle as Felix, who’s definitely bolstered by Murray’s own eccentric celebrity persona. Felix is a very specific kind of an asshole (who definitely knows that he’s an asshole) that people love to spend a few hours with because he’s easily the life of the party; as a grandfather, he’s a delight. By now, Laura is well-used to her father rolling up in his own car with little to no warning—he’s an art collector with some clients in town—and putting the charm offensive onto practically every woman he encounters along the way. Its effectiveness depends on the woman he talks to, but if it came from anyone else, it would be undeniably creepy.

Rashida Jones on the left and Bill Murray on the right in the back of a limo.
Apple TV

On the Rocks is a splendidly portrayed character driven story which uses New York City as its conspicuous scene in a stunning way, and with that aside the film will make them grin beginning to end. When Coppola focuses on Laura, Felix, and the growing tension and melancholy that develops between them, it shines. Jones can keep up with Murray while Coppola’s script gives them both moments of reflection or melancholy as they look back on their choices; even at their most ridiculous, you know exactly where they’re coming from. It’s just as fun to watch them butt heads as it is to watch them team up, and despite its shortcomings, On The Rocks delivers for its leading stars.

Although Coppola’s commentary on marriage and life is compelling, its sociological conclusions are somewhat less so. In fact, it’s for this reason that I don’t see it having a huge replay value. Coppola is clear with her direction and purpose, which makes for engaging moments that diagnose the shortcomings of marriages. However, the thematic implications are not as revelatory as the film suggests they are.

Despite not necessarily reinventing the wheel, On the Rocks manages to more than justify its existence with an Oscar-worthy performance from Murray and top-notch writing from Coppola herself. As a bittersweet comedy just a hair off of a 90-minute runtime, it is delightful and enjoyable.

Charlotte J is a culture and film journalist with an interest in coming of age and time travel. Her favourite films are Back to the Future and When Harry Met Sally.