Rock the Kasbah

Posted October 22, 2015 by in


Total Score

3/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: comedy
Director: Barry Levinson
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: Bill Murray, Leem Lubany, Zooey Deschanel
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: 10-23-2015
Studio: Dune Films, QED International, Shangri-La Entertainment, Venture Forth
What We Thought

While the plot is meandering, the film benefits from a funny script and a comedic actor who can execute it, Bill Murray.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Zooey Deschanel, Bill MurrayRock the Kasbah is an oddball comedy.  It’s not “quirky” like a Wes Anderson film or a Noam Baumbach movie.  It’s oddball.  It’s a different kind of different.
     Bill Murray stars as Richie Lanz, a talent manager who scams would-be singers out of their paychecks to pay his bills.  Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel) is his secretary.   She’s been working for him for a year, promised that one day she will sing her own songs.  Opportunity knocks when Richie learns that the USO show will pay big money for performers.  Here’s the catch:  the show is in Afghanistan.
     You’d think that this is what the movie is going to be about, but it’s not.  After an IED goes off two blocks away, Ronnie disappears, having taken Richie’s wallet, money, and passport.  Now what’s Ritchie to do?
     Richie searches the city of Kabul for Ronnie, with the help of two shady munitions dealers, Nick and Jake (Danny McBride, Scott Caan), but to no avail.  Ronnie returns to his hotel room, where he finds Bombay Brian (Bruce Willis), an american mercenary, waiting for him.
     Long story short, Brian put Ronnie on a flight out of the country, and gives Ritchie 24 hours to pay him back for the air fare.
     But that’s not what the movie is about, either.  The film begins with a scene of a woman in a red burka sitting in a cave, watching an Afghan version of American Idol.  The mechanics of storytelling dictate that Ritchie and the woman, Salima (Leem Lubany), must meet, because it turns out that she has a sublime singing voice.
     Rock the Kasbah is ultimately about how Ritchie discovers her, Leem Lubany, Bill Murrayand wants to make a pop star out of her by putting her on Afghan Star.  However, before the story settles on this direction, the movie is halfway over.
     While the plot is meandering, the film benefits from a funny script and a comedic actor who can execute it, Bill Murray.  The comedy is deadpan, the kind of humor found in Wes Anderson movies, which often feature Murray himself.  But again, this isn’t quirky, it’s oddball.  See it, and you’ll see what I mean.
     That is a recommendation, but not without reservations.  The end credits praise a real-life singer who went on Afghan TV, defying local beliefs and traditions, inspiring Rock the Kasbah’s story, but the film takes the long way around its subject; it’s about Ritchie when it needs to be about her.  But would mass audiences pay to see, that, or a Bill Murray vehicle?  It’s a question that can only be answered by this weekend’s box office.  We’ll see…

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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