“On The Rocks” Review

Sofia Coppola’s “On The Rocks” follows a father and daughter as they try to find out if the daughter’s husband is cheating on her. Laura (Rashida Jones) becomes suspicious of her husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans), when she finds a woman’s toiletry bag in his luggage. So she enlists the help of her father (Bill Murray) to discover the truth. What ensues is a zany father-daughter adventure.

What’s the Deal with Dean?

While the story may seem generic and predictable, it’s not. This is the part where we stick the “spoiler warning” and tell you to only read on if you don’t want to find out what happens in the film. I’ll give you a moment to think it over…Good, let’s move on. We find out that Dean is not, in fact, cheating on Laura. I was shocked too, don’t worry. This man acted super shady, but it turns out that he really was just busy with work. How about that?

A Father and his Daughter

Now you may be asking yourself: if he wasn’t cheating on her, then what’s the point in watching the movie? Because this film isn’t so much about Dean cheating on Laura, but the relationship between Laura and her father, Felix. At the beginning of the film, we hear Felix tell a young Laura that she’ll always be his, even when she’s married. He is the main man of her life, even more so than her husband. So even when they venture out and try to find out if Dean is having an affair, it’s really just a father finding an excuse to spend time with his daughter. 

Laura’s fear that her husband is cheating on her even stems from her father. Felix is a huge playboy, which is why he separated from Laura’s mom. He tells his daughter that the reason he had an affair was because the mom had lost her “glow” after having children. Much like Laura, who thinks that she’s become too boring for Dean and has two children of her own. At one point, after Laura lashes out at her dad, he asks, “What happened to you? You used to be fun.” 

The Two Men in Laura’s Life

Like many of A24’s other films, “On The Rocks” is a slow burn. You see the apparent mundaneness of Laura’s daily routine: take the kids to school, chat with one of the other parents, and struggle to write her book. You even get this growing dislike of Dean, as he’s rarely home, leaving Laura as the kids’ primary caretaker. Even on her birthday, Dean gives her a lame appliance; on the other hand, Felix sends her flowers, takes her out to dinner, and gives her one of his old watches (refurbished, of course). It creates this neat juxtaposition between the two men in her life. 

Top Notch Acting

Bill Murray steals the show as Felix Keane. When he isn’t on screen, you count the seconds on your fingers until he gets back. That doesn’t mean that the other characters aren’t interesting. It’s just that Murray’s deadpan humor and quirky antics are just so engaging. Whether he’s spouting off the history of attraction between humans or describing marriage, Murray shines. Not to be outdone, Jones turns in an equally enjoyable and vulnerable performance. You can’t help but root for her. Though he might be best known for his comedies, Marlon Wayans flexes his dramatic chops. He should take on more roles like this.

Final Verdict: Go Watch “On The Rocks”

I understand if you don’t want to pay $4.99 a month for Apple TV+, but I highly recommend you watch this movie. Do what I did and get the free week trial. While it’s officially listed as a comedy-drama, “On The Rocks” won’t make you guffaw and it won’t make you cry. It’s not that kind of movie. What it will give you is thoughtful insight into the inner workings of marriage and the role that fathers play in their daughters’ lives. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to rewatch this movie as many times as I can, until my free trial expires.