<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Barry Levinson. Starring Bill Murray, Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, Bruce Willis, Scott Caan, Danny McBride, Taylor Kinney, Fahim Fazli, Leem Lubany
Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes
While you may love Bill Murray, you simply cannot forgive this hash of a film that seems like it has its heart in the right place but ends up with a foot in its mouth.
Any film that has Bill Murray in it would be oddball and funny. He has that particular charm and you will chuckle at some of his lines in Rock The Kasbah. But very rarely and you’ll be yawning and drifting off a lot more.
Talent-promoter Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) seems to have had a rotten life. He scams his talent of money giving them hopes of stardom but just gets by living in a trashy motel. He is separated from his wife and has a young daughter – which seems highly dissonant with the fact that he actually looks like a grandfather – who doesn’t get to see much. Since he has nothing to lose he takes up an offer to tour Afghanistan with his only talent/assistant, Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel) who runs away a day after landing in the war torn country leaving Richie without money or purpose.
He makes some dubious American friends who are in Afghanistan because war has a way of opening up the taps of money for those who know how to make a quick and underhanded buck. They recruit him to deliver arms to a Pashtun village in need of protection. Here, Richie discovers a Pashtun girl (Leem Lubany) with a melodious singing voice and a chance for him to finally become famous and not have to tell people he discovered Madonna.
The part about the Pashtun girl is apparently based on a true story of a girl in Afghanistan who defied conventions at great risk to her life and honour to take part in Afghan Star (like American Idol). But the film doesn’t really focus on her character and any attempt at trying to send across a message of rebellion or change is lost in a series of slapstick and ridiculous situations. One of them involves Richie’s interactions with an American hooker called Merci (Kate Hudson) who takes pity on him and sleeps with him and then becomes his business partner.
Bruce Willis is thrown in to play the muscle guy who ends up helping Richie defend the village he’s sold dummy arms to. It’s just a mess really with no direction or solid plot to grab on to. You wish it were a lot better but then you find yourself drifting off during bits of it. Rock The Kasbah is actually quite a bad film and you would not bother with it had it not been for Bill Murray’s not-so-great performance. He needs to do something a bit different now.