Rock the Kasbah

Rock the Kasbah

(2015)

Opportunity rocks where you least expect it.

Bill Murray is Richie Lanz, a down-on-his-luck rock manager in this comedy from director Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog). Co-stars Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Bruce Willis and Danny McBride.... More

When Richie takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan, she gets cold feet and leaves him penniless and without his passport in Kabul. Trying to find his way home, he discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice and his last shot at creating an unlikely superstar.Hide

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Flicks Review

Bill Murray’s becalmed music manager Richie Lanz isn’t the only person stuck in limbo in Rock the Kasbah, nor are the various Western dregs populating Afghani capital Kabul in the film. We’re talking a mercenary, prostitute, and a pair of arms dealers (Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride and Scott Caan respectively), on hand to provide a bit of colour in Barry Levinson’s fish-out-of-water comedy.... More

As characters come and go from the screen it’s quickly apparent that their presence is only there to serve up another storyline curveball for Murray, or provide someone for him to riff off. Watching this, you’re almost embarrassed for the actors involved as they, like Russian and Western militaries before them, are worn down by the Afghanistan they're stuck in. Meanwhile, Afghanis themselves persevere - though for the most part they’re shown as a familiar mishmash of tribal warriors and taxi drivers.

Truly a stinker of a film, with no sense of purpose and seldom teasing a chuckle, let alone a proper laugh, out of the audience, Rock the Kasbah is a long, long way from Levinson’s last comedy of note, 1997’s Wag the Dog. With Murray in the lead here, and playing a rock n roll veteran, there was ample opportunity for sharp comedic critiques - of the clashing dualities America projects into Asia and the Middle East, of frontier entrepreneurship, of anything more substantial than Murray goofing around, which is all the film delivers.

Bill Murray is an undeniable cultural treasure, bringing decades of hilarity both on and off the screen. For a film to render his presence grating is a rare thing indeed, but that’s what ends up happening here - a lot of wishing for the kasbah to hurry up and get rocked, already, so we don’t have to see any more.Hide


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The Press Reviews

8% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Slight and sometimes outright offensive, though it’s also intermittently amusing and not entirely unself-aware. Full Review

  • An intermittently amusing but dramatically problematic mish-mash that careens all over a rough and rocky road. Full Review

  • Laughs are few, attempts at feel-good catharsis fizzle out limply, and all of Murray’s most elaborate performance setpieces fall embarrassingly flat. Full Review

  • There’s a special variety of infuriating that comes from a bad movie by talented people. Full Review

  • Levinson never seems to know what to point his camera at, or when to cut, and Glazer never seems to know when to leave a joke alone and let the cast work. Full Review

  • An acclaimed film director, a legendary comic actor, lots of fun rock and pop songs, and a noble story at its core can't save Rock the Kasbah from being one hugely misguided dud. Full Review

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