On the Rocks (2020) / The Way Back (2020) - Capsule Reviews


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On the Rocks: Sofia’s lovely and melancholy character perfectly harmonizes with a subtle, alluring performance by Bill Murray.

If I express my top 30 movies of 2020 with music instruments, then it would be like, the violin is “Minari” (2nd place), drums are “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (3rd place). The piano is “Wolfwalkers” (19th place), and the vibraphone would be “On the Rocks” (26th place). On the Rocks is a delightful, easy-going movie that we rarely see in the Hollywood industry.

On the Rocks is a light comedy-drama following Laura (Rashida Jones), a married woman with two children. Lately, she feels distant from her husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans). Felix (Bill Murray), the father of Laura, is a wealthy, retired art dealer. Laura struggles to write her new book, maybe because of her inner conflicts, or she just needs a vacation to bring back her usual fun self. When she finds a woman’s toiletry bag in Dean’s luggage after his business trip, her suspicion begins to increase as the Dean business trips. After calling her father Felix, a playboy who believes every man hardwired to cheat, he convinces Laura to investigate further. Both father and daughter have a little adventure by spying on Dean, having conversations about ageing, marriage, art, and New York.

The third reunion to director Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray, On the Rocks, may not be classic like “Lost in Translation”, but it’s sure a sweet and enjoyable movie. For some, like the vibraphone instrument, “On the Rocks” feels like a yawning, tiring movie because of its light plot that nowhere goes. But for most people (including me), it will be a delight to watch, due-to the grounded characters, light comedy, and the national treasure Bill Murray. And, the running time of 90 minutes (yes, it’s only ninety minutes).

Other than Bill Murray, who could fit in the role of a charming father, attracting with the trivial dialogue and immersing the audience with no words. Sofia’s lovely and melancholy character perfectly harmonizes with a subtle, alluring performance by Bill Murray. This harmonization can be seen in the scene when police officers pull over him and Rashida due to reckless driving. Bill Murray uses his charisma and alluring words to get out of a ticket. Rashida Jones is also terrific. The father and daughter relation between Bill and Rashida Jones works really well. Their chemistry feels natural and intriguing to watch. Sofia amazingly captures New York’s nightlife with Felix’s larger-than-life character exhibiting his daughter Laura, from museums to rich bars. Sofia somehow shows the loneliness and inner conflicts of the characters with less drama and no words. She maintains a mellow tone throughout the movie.

Conclusion: Overall, “On the Rocks” is an easy-going, light comedy-drama. My rating is 7/10.

Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, Marlon Wayans
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

The Way Back: Striking comeback for Ben Affleck

The sports drama “The Way Back (2020) “is a generic story that we’ve seen hundreds of times. Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) used to be a basketball champion in his high school. Now he is in his forties, working as a construction worker and struggling with alcoholism that led to a failed marriage. One day, Jack received a call from Bishop Hayes, where he graduated high school, offering him a coach position. He reluctantly agrees to train the losing basketball team. Does Jack win his life back from alcoholism and his dark past?

At times it felt cliche, but for the most part, even with the formulaic story, stock characters, the movie is enjoyable and worth watching because of Ben Affleck’s performance. From directing award-winning films like “Argo,” “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town” to starring in “Gone Girl,” Ben Affleck’s career excelled in the Hollywood industry. “The Way Back “is a striking comeback for Ben from the unpleasant movies he did in the past five years. Taking the role that relates to his past battle with alcoholism is courageous.

Ben Affleck carried the whole movie with his depressing and sobering performance without overdoing it, possibly the best accomplishment in this acting career. The execution is barely fair from the director of the best boxing movie, “Warrior,” Gavin O’Connor. However, he succeeded in showing the lead character genuinely. writing the out-of-box screenplay for sport-dramas is challenging. “The Way Back “also suffers from this issue except for the third act; the movie is predictable and sometimes cliché. The undercooked supporting characters and the drama surrounding the basketball matches feel unearned when they rise to the top charts.

Conclusion: Ben Affleck’s personal, depressing and sobering performance shined even with the dark spots of formulaic story, stock characters. My rating 6.5/10.

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Cast: Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Janina Gavankar
Genre: Drama, Sport


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