Review: “On the Rocks” isn’t perfect, but its freshness and originality will grow on you

Preston Vanderslice, Reporter

I could be wrong but I doubt it’s every day that a genuinely funny buddy comedy revolving around a father-daughter duo floats through the studios of Hollywood. But when it’s Sofia Coppola bringing the script with Rashida Jones and Bill Murray attached, well, how can you say no?

“On The Rocks,” while not a perfect movie, goes to nuanced places that few movies have. It’s freshness and originality sneak up on you even if the story feels slightly par-baked at points.

“On the Rocks” teams up these two veteran actors in a comedic, family-based and detective-esque storyline that addresses both issues of the past as well as pressing questions of the present. Laura (Jones) is a gifted writer approaching middle age with two kids and a hotshot husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans). She’s lived a seemingly charmed life thus far but has recently become suspicious of Dean’s relationship with his younger and flirtatious co-worker, Fiona (Jessica Henwick). When Laura calls her dad Felix (Murray) for advice, he comes swooping in to get to the bottom of his little girl’s heartache.

The irony of Felix’s almost giddy and sleuthing interest in his daughter’s marital concerns is that he is nothing short of a gallivanting playboy himself and never proved to be a present husband to Laura’s mom. It’s an emotional conundrum for Laura – he was the very kind of husband she hopes to have avoided with Dean, but he’s a voice of expertise for this particular mission.

Jones and Murray are spot-on as a quick and quirky father-daughter duo. At this point in his career, Murray has American icon status and his effortless oddball prowess was on full display. Jones, while not the scene-stealer that Murrary is, does her part to offer a lived-in emotional reality to a character that others might skew as an unlikable well-off hipster “woe is me” parent.

The resolve of the plot was the only thing that felt lacking in this otherwise enjoyable fare. In the end, Dean is not a cheating husband, but is he too cozy with Fiona? And what about the exchange where he’s awkwardly skittish and unwilling to give Laura the new passcode to his phone? The story is tied up with Laura apologizing for suspecting anything from him, but without him addressing these actions that are making her feel uncomfortable.

While the dynamics between Laura and Dean didn’t feel fully dealt with, the relationship between Laura and Felix evolves as she is able to ask him direct questions about his attitude toward the commitments of marriage. The new ground that is discovered between them carried the satisfying emotional elements of this relationship dramedy. While Laura and Dean aren’t on the rocks, they may need a few more intimate nights of moderate boozing to more fully clear the air.