‘On the Rocks’ is not a great film. It is slow, with minimal plot, zero surprises, ok, fine, one, tiny little surprise towards the end, still no major surprises; not much humour, and Bill Murray looks like he’s tired of acting and also, frankly, slightly unwell. So much so, that one fellow sufferer in the audience vented his frustration half way through, by shouting at the screen, stop blanking, start acting!
Murray’s character is selfish and obnoxious, which serves no purpose, but rather, like everything else in the film it is what it is. Did I mention that Murray looks drawn and haggard? He does. His daughter, played by Rashida Jones, who, I understand, has received a degree of praise for the role, but I am sorry to say she does not do much for me either. Her husband comes off the worst of them all. He is so bland he seems to be nothing more than a prop, with no visible traces of a personality, and an acting method built around rubbing his forehead with his outstretched hand a lot to indicate his inner struggles. Or just a persistently itchy forehead.
The marriage, the state of which the title alludes to, and which is meant to be the centrepiece of the movie, is utterly unconvincing, completely removed from reality of modern family living. The father-daughter relationship has its cute moments, but these are so too few and so short-lived, they cannot possibly save the film from itself. It is one of those films where ‘nothing happens’, and in the absence of any other redeeming features, you leave the cinema thinking it was a bit of let down and a bit of a waste of your time. The kind of film that typically only attracts a very small crowd of eccentric culture buffs, which lends the cinema auditorium the same depressing vibe that is unfolding on screen.
Except, this is 2020, and typical does not apply. Audiences, starved of new releases flock to each one in large numbers, limited, naturally, by social distancing rules.
And so it came to pass that On the Rocks opened to a full house at our local Everyman cinema. My daughter and I were there too, amongst the Crystal Palace finest, doing our bit to save the industry.
One nagging thought still remains, as we watch the trailers. Why, oh, why there is a need to push back Dune, No Time to Die and Black Widow releases, but On the Rocks was able to open.
Everyman really knows how to look after their middle class, ever so snobbish clientele. Sofa style seats, currently separated by Covid-friendly single empty armchair. They offer food and drink waiter service, with a range of burgers, hummus and flatbread, four types of chips, including deliciously salty and just the right side of thin, sweet potato variety. Drinks menu includes a decent wine list in three colours, as well as a large choice of cocktails, with a frozen pina colada with vanilla ice cream to die for, and, wait for it, raspberry candy fizz, which is raspberry liqueur and prosecco with a dollop of pink candy floss on top.
All this allows the cinema to double up as a bar and a restaurant, which makes sitting through mediocre films like this one all the more palatable. I can’t wait for Cats and Dogs: Paws Unite next weekend. Kidding, it’s actually Cinema Paradiso, 30th Anniversary, and I literally cannot wait. I already have my food and drink order all sorted in my head.
I want to believe that the future of cinema is bright. It has the colour of the passion fruit martini at your local Everyman.
PS. The photo shows me using Every Girl facilities. The lighting inside is every middle aged woman’s dream.