Rock the Kasbah Movie Review
Bill Murray refused to star in a new Ghostbusters, but he did agree to star as a washed-up music manager who ends up stranded in Afghanistan, agrees to help some shady American contractors transport weapons to a small village, finds an extremely attractive singer in a cave and then risks her life to put her in the spotlight in the rocky comedy Rock the Kasbah.
Barry Levinson (whose last respectable movie was arguably 1997’s Wag the Dog) directs the screenplay by Mitch Glazer (Murray’s Scrooged), and the results are a comedy that is mildly funny, sort of entertaining and utterly forgettable, even as the film does its best to straddle the line between being inoffensive to tribal Muslims while still focusing the central plot on how a young woman’s public singing will bring shame or worse upon her family.
In other words, Rock the Kasbah will win over Bill Murray diehards and possibly warrant a rental, but it does not demand the cost of seeing it in theaters.
Murray is fine in the lead, though his character won’t stand among his most memorable or enjoyable roles. His character is a little too likable to be edgy and not likable enough to be downright funny. The rest of the cast is largely wasted, with Kate Hudson playing a high-end prostitute for some reason and the perfectly cast Zooey Deschanel disappearing after the first 15 minutes. Scott Caan and Danny McBride are sort of funny, but their zaniness seems forced and desperate. You can tell the filmmakers were trying to make Bruce Willis funny, but the normally engaging actor seems to have been force fed his bland lines. For playing such a central role in the story, Leem Lubany shows up surprisingly late in the film and is barely given any time to develop her character.
Rock the Kasbah is an utterly okay movie, a 100-minute film that at times feels significantly longer. It takes a long time to get to the meat of the story, but the strange thing is that the randomness of the first half of the movie is actually better than the plot-driven second half. Ultimately, while it offers some laughs, Rock the Kasbah isn’t funny enough to be anything more than a footnote in Bill Murray’s storied career.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.