“On the Rocks” is the long-awaited reunion between writer-director Sofia Coppola and actor Bill Murray, who previously achieved success together with the 2003 film “Lost in Translation” (though they also teamed up on the Emmy-nominated holiday special “A Very Murray Christmas” in 2015). It was released on October 2 by A24 in advance of its October 23 premiere on Apple TV+. Does it meet the high expectations they’ve set for themselves?
As of this writing the film has a MetaCritic score of 74 based on 38 reviews counted thus far: 32 positive and 6 somewhat mixed, but none outright negative. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is rated 89% fresh based on 92 reviews, only 10 of which are classified as rotten. The RT critics consensus says that the film “isn’t as potent as its top-shelf ingredients might suggest, but the end result still goes down easy — and offers high proof of Bill Murray’s finely aged charm.”
The film stars Rashida Jones as a woman concerned that her husband (Marlon Wayans) might be cheating on her. So she and her playboy father (Murray) set out to learn the truth. Critics are saying that Jones and Murray are both “terrific,” with Murray showing “shades of mortality and regret pulling at the corners of that puckish, here’s-looking-at-you-kiddo grin.” It’s a “light comedy” relative to Coppola’s previous efforts, but with “a quiet grounded center to it.” The filmmaker infuses the film with “small moments that provide gateways to deeper emotions.” And though the movie might have been “richer” if it were longer than its brisk 96 minutes, it still contains “an embarrassment of riches.”
Perhaps surprisingly, neither Coppola nor Murray have been back to the Oscars since “Lost in Translation” 13 years ago. Coppola earned a trio of nominations for that film as a writer, director and producer, winning for her script, and Murray probably came close to winning Best Actor (Sean Penn eked out a victory for “Mystic River”), but both filmmaker and star have been admired for their work ever since.
Coppola won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for “Somewhere” (2010) and Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival for “The Beguiled” (2017). And Murray earned Golden Globe nominations for “Hyde Park on Hudson” (2012) and “St. Vincent” (2014) in addition to an Emmy for his supporting role in the 2014 limited series “Olive Kitteridge” and a Screen Actors Guild Award nominations as a member of the cast of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014).
Will “On the Rocks” add to their award collections? Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow movie fans here in our forums.
Karen Gordon (Original Cin): ‘”On the Rocks’ is a light comedy filtered through the lens of writer/director Sofia Coppola. By which I mean it’s smart, gentle and sweet. Coppola is a minimalist by nature. And although this is the most distinctly comedic film she’s ever done, it still has a quiet grounded center to it, which to me, is a hallmark of all of her films.”
Scout Tafoya (RogerEbert.com): “More time would make this soufflé of a movie even richer. But, if you can look beyond the 90-minute runtime depriving this movie of a more satisfying conclusion, there is not simply ‘a lot to like,’ there’s an embarrassment of riches crying out for perusal … [Coppola] made Manhattan look like Rome, she made her life look like an Alberto Sordi comedy, and she made her life into the genuinely mythic thing it is by reckoning with it.”
Marjorie Baumgarten (Austin Chronicle): “Writer/director Sofia Coppola shifts into a comfortable narrative register with this light romantic comedy that stars Rashida Jones and Bill Murray (both terrific) … The story is slight, but in Coppola’s hands the film is infused with small moments that provide gateways to deeper emotions.”
Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly): “It’s a long-awaited reunion of sorts too, and there are unmissable echoes in [Murray’s] performance of ‘Lost in Translation,’ the 2003 drama whose delicate melancholy revealed a Murray most moviegoers had never seen: lonesome, vulnerable, tender at the root. His Felix is a breezier, more slippery character, but he susses out the layers; shades of mortality and regret pulling at the corners of that puckish, here’s-looking-at-you-kiddo grin.”
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