ON THE ROCKS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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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.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On The Rocks is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for October 15, 2020

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.