My son looks like a younger Bill Murray. He has won lookalike contests. Waitresses serve him with the greeting, “You know who you look like?” He even has the same wry sense of humor as Bill Murray.
Of course, Murray (who we grew up with on Saturday Night Live) has gone on to build a fine film career. Some of it funny (“Caddyshack,” “Ghostbusters,” “Groundhog Day”), some of it serious (“Broken Flowers,” “St. Vincent,” “Hyde Park on the Hudson”). Perhaps his best performance was the underplayed role in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation.”
Sofia Coppola is the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola (the “Godfather” trilogy), so she has filmmaking in her DNA. She is known for “The Virgin Suicides,” “The Bling Ring,” and “The Beguiled,” in addition to “Lost in Translation.”
Murray and Coppola have teamed up yet again, this time in a dramedy called “On the Rocks.”
You can catch it at the Tropic Cinema, one of the films that signals the indie theater’s re-opening.
“On the Rocks” could have been a Woody Allen movie. Set in Manhattan, it is a comedy about relationships. It is indeed a love poem to New York, but at its heart it explores the connection between fathers and daughters.
In it, Laura (played by Rashida Jones) suspects her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) of straying. After all, he’s been working late at the office a lot. So, she turns for help to her father Felix (Bill Murray), a charming rogue who knows a thing or two about philandering. And they set out on a surveillance mission that ends up (no spoiler alert needed) with father and daughter discovering each other.
Rashida Jones is, as you know, the daughter of musician Quincey Jones and actress Peggy Lipton. Marlon Wayans is the brother of Damon Wayans and was a cast member of TV’s “In Living Color.” And Bill Murray is, well, a legend.
Who else could play himself in a movie where he gets killed in his lavish Hollywood mansion by vampires? Or play himself in “She’s Having a Baby.” Or play himself in “Space Jam.”
Even so, Bill Murray has a reputation for being difficult to work with. He replies, “I only got that reputation from people I didn’t like working with, or people who didn’t know how to work, or what work is. Jim, Wes and Sofia, they know what it is to work, and they understand how you’re supposed to treat people.”
So, it’s not surprising to see him answer Sofia Coppola’s call when she was tapped to deliver the first film in a multi-picture deal between A24 and Apple. (Note: This limited theatrical release of “On the Rocks” will be followed by digital streaming in late October on Apple TV+, the new video on demand service launched last year by Apple.)
It’s about time Bill Murray and Rashida Jones got to work together. When Sofia Coppola was workshopping the script for “Lost in Translation” with an acting class, Rashida was the student who read the part that eventually went to Scarlett Johansson in the movie.
All wasn’t perfect between Murray and Scarlett Johansson, as it turns out. Sofia recalls that “the central scene of Scarlett and Murray lying on the bed together took multiple takes because the actors did not seem to be getting along.” She eventually stopped for the day and started again the next morning.
We can assume that Bill Murray and Rashida Jones meshed better than many of his previous co-stars. As one moviegoer summed it up, “The film bursts into life when Rashida Jones and Bill Murray combine, as Sofia Coppola’s excellent screenplay finally begins to show what it’s made of. Funny, insightful, clever and emotional. ‘On the Rocks’ is right on the money start to finish.”
As for Bill Murray, my son recently shaved his head so he wouldn’t be mistaken for the iconic actor-comedian. I told him he needn’t have gone so far. He could have just hidden behind his coronavirus mask on those few occasions he goes out.