“On the Rocks” (2017)
Running Time 90 Minutes, Rated R.
1.5 Mitch’s out of 5
A comedy of misery shouldn’t make the viewer miserable, but this one did. To quote the great Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
The writer/director team of Ariel Gardner and Alex Kavutskiy seem to be so focused on making their characters as annoying as possible that I wonder if they ever stopped to think about how annoying “On the Rocks” is to watch. The acting, for the most part, is pretty decent, and I’m sure both Gardner and Kavutskiy knew it as well and ran with it as much as they could. This strength, however, ultimately fails the viewing experience since this is a character piece, and we are relentlessly exhausted with grating banter and nauseating human interactions.
I don’t use the word ‘literal’ lightly. “On the Rocks” gave me a literal headache watching it. It’s not easy to produce an actual physical reaction in me watching films, but congrats cause I immediately swallowed 1000 mg of Ibuprofen once the credits rolled.
Dallas (Chase Fein) is a nice enough guy who lets everyone in his life run over him and run over him they do. From his bipolar demanding wife Karen (Nichole Bagby), her bossy older sister Krystal (Kate Freund) and provocative younger sister Kaitlynn (Audrey Whitby), to his scamming boss, and just about everyone else our lead crosses paths with. Dallas is mentally pulverized by the people in his life, and that eventually takes a toll on him physically.
I got to give it up to actor Chase Fein as the sad sack Dallas. Fein really does have the gift to pull the viewer in and be invested enough to want this guy to get the hell out of Dodge from these crazies. Fein doesn’t play Dallas as the perfect guy either, his flaws are there, but the actor makes him easy to root for.
To reiterate, this is an endlessly annoying affair. I kept thinking, what is the filmmakers objective here? Because laughter couldn’t have been one of them.
It’s almost a tie between who is more annoying; Bagby’s bonkers wife Karen or Freund’s worst person on earth older sister Krystal. And again, I’m looking more at fault to the director than to Bagby. Seriously, Bagby’s character screams 75% of her lines (aforementioned headache), and I’m betting she was coerced into that.
You know I said it was mostly the director's fault and that the acting was pretty decent, well not so much with Freund’s performance. While the tone is always hectic and heightened, there is smidge of sense of reality throughout but not with Freund’s choices. Didn’t believe in her character for a second.
You put all of this crap together with longhand scenes that scream I have a problem with my stream of consciousness. I’m sure it was a choice to have no filter and craziness keep going and going, but I think it was a poor choice. I was worn out 15 minutes into the film. “On the Rocks” sure felt a lot longer than it’s 90 minutes running time.