Like an underdone soufflé, Sofia Coppola’s bittersweet On the Rocks fails to fully rise to the occasion despite a welcome reunion with her ever-wry leading man Bill Murray from Lost in Translation. Once again she pairs him with an younger actress in the form of Rashida Jones, not as a love interest — as was the case with Scarlett Johansson — but as his daughter. The main similarity between them is the fact that both characters suspect their spouse might be cheating on them.
Set in the privileged world of Manhattan, this feels like an underfed third-tier Woody Allen escapade but from a female point of view, one that unfolds in a spacious Soho loft and brand-name old-school eateries like the 21 Club. Jones is Laura, a mom of two delightful daughters and an author of sorts who is suffering from writer’s block. Part of the reason is concerns about her marriage as her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans), who has been putting in extra-long hours at his job. When she joins him at a work function, Laura suspects that an attractive new hire has enflamed his desires.
That is where Murray comes in. His Felix is a footloose and fancy-free man about town, an art dealer and well-known bon vivant who treats the Big Apple as his own personal oyster, complete with a personal chauffeur. Watching the world turn about this charmer is fun to a point. But instead of insisting that his daughter simply ask her husband whether something is amiss, she instead joins daddy in a game of spy while sipping cocktails and tailing her spouse.
The always-welcome Jenny Slate makes several appearances as a self-involved single mom pal who spouts nonsensical observations about her romantic woes to a less-than-interested Laura. One of the actual lone jokes on screen comes when Slate complains about just finding out her lover is a married man while wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Afternoon Delight.”
Ultimately, “On the Rocks” is a trifle of a boondoggle that is lucky to at least have a cast that can somewhat mask the fact that there’s not much there.