Movie Review: ‘Rock The Kasbah’

Review by Joseph Tucker

A down-on-his-luck music manager discovers a teenage girl with an extraordinary voice while on a music tour in Afghanistan and takes her to Kabul to compete on the popular television show, Afghan Star.

“Rock The Kasbah” is a cheap attempt at a comeback that takes us to foreign lands showing it in low quality.

Bill Murray has always been a sleeper pick and his roles are a toss up. He can either dazzle you or disappoint you. With “Rock The Kasbah,” he does very little dazzling and a great deal of disappointing. Murray plays washed-out Richie Lanz, an artist manager with no direction who works out of a motel. Lanz travels with his current talent, Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel) to Afghanistan to open for Demi Lavato. Things go awry and Lanz is left without an artist, a passport or any money. In his travels to get back to the U.S., Lanz finds an Afghan girl who he thinks has the voice he’s been searching for and a fight ensues to get her the spotlight she needs.

You’d think with a strong cast of names like Bruce Willis, Danny Mcbride and Bill Murray, that this would be a knockout but it hits below the mark. Murray’s character can’t seem to make it out of a rut and the problem seems to transfer over to the actor. Murray seems to be lacking in this role and it isn’t clear whether it’s the script or the fact that he really doesn’t want to be there at all, just doing the film in order to finance his life. There are less roles being made available for aging stars but that doesn’t mean an actor should pick whatever floats by and in this instance, it seems that was the case. Bruce Willis puts on his “Die Hard” face just as he does for all his other films in which he needs to be an action-oriented character and Zooey Deschanel provides a miniscule amount of support, seeming to only have a few weak lines.

Not only was the cast weak but the production was just not that strong. Many times the quality was reminiscent of a cheap soap opera, especially during the latter parts of the film. The voice-overs for the musical parts were off and could definitely be perceived as fake. A cultural divide between Murray’s character and the people of Afghanistan could have been made into a sincere part of the movie but only served as an irritant that never dips below the surface of any kind of social commentary. This was yet another film that could have been but was hindered by a weak script and half-hearted production.

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