On the Rocks (R) ★★★½

The movie “On the Rocks” (R) is in theaters now and on Apple TV+ October 23. Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, dad and daughter go on a spying mission with surprising results.

Bill Murray, Felix stars as a semi-retired art dealer with an extravagant lifestyle. Rashida Jones plays his daughter, Laura, a somewhat conservative mom with two young children who’s also a writer. The setting is the vibrant and lively New York City, in which Laura is having trouble finding time to write a book in which she’s under contract, and begins to feel her husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans), doesn’t have time for her. To make matters worse, she suspects he may be having an affair with a work colleague.

Laura begins to spend more time with her dad; she finds herself opening up to him about her suspicions. Before you can say Perry Mason—Felix persuades Laura to take matters into her own hands and spy on Dean. What ensues are father and daughter conversations about infidelity—that Felix is guilty of in the past, thus navigating an avenue to healing past wounds.

Coppola has stated that her writing and directing themes are in-depth topics that she’s contemplating in a light and airy tone. Here, she’s looking at a now-grown daughter, and how her adult relationships affect her past. The banter with her dad is a way to clear the air. The smart comedic script certainly brings up past family issues, yet how they play into adult life is not easy to pull off. As we settle in, one can’t help but look forward to the next conversation. Murray is his predictable dry-humored self, allowing Coppola to draw out his fatherly instincts. Jones has wonderful acting moments as her role is one of confusion, worry, and compliance. She’s taken on the brunt of the child-rearing while her husband travels to exotic locations.

An enjoyable father and daughter film centering on weighty issues while maneuvering through the problems with humor. I loved the scene in the Carlyle Hotel’s sophisticated, upscale piano bar, adorned with Ludwig Bemelmans’ famous murals, of which, make me long for New York! Excellent script and excellent performances.

Sarah Knight Adamson© October 16, 2020