A satirically silly stab in the dark, Bill Murray’s latest is a blindly jutting, dull blade of poorly written dialogue, inexplicable character motivations and structurally unsound storytelling. The tale itself, goofy as it all sounds, has the potential to be interesting: A down-on-his-luck, L.A.-based rock manager discovers a desert gem of a voice while promoting his American client’s USO, Kabul-based show… You know what, scratch that – this sounds awful. At every turn, ROCK THE KASBAH relies too heavily on Murray’s dryly wise-cracking shlubbish shtick – an act I truly adore when the material around him is working toward the same goal of entertaining audiences (which is most of the time). In this case, however, his efforts range wildly from harmless hot potato to hellish hand grenade. The performance works every so often, but mostly lacks effective bite and smacks of sad-clown desperation. You can also expect an emotionless performance from Bruce Willis, an awkwardly underdeveloped performance from Kate Hudson and a ridiculously brief performance from Zooey Deschanel. Lots of talent here – all wasted. There’s an inherent fish-out-water cultural clash of politics, religion and reality-show glitz that all go largely unexamined throughout its seems-longer-than-it-really-is running time. This lazy, forced and unfocused Middle East mess aside, Murray still remains a god amongst entertainers…even if ROCK THE KASBAH is literally lost in translation.
Starring: Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Scott Caan, Danny McBride and Zooey Deschanel
Directed by: Barry Levinson (THE NATURAL, BUGSY, RAIN MAN, WAG THE DOG, DINER and GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM)
Running time: 1hr. 40min.
Story: ROCK THE KASBAH is the story of "Richie Vance," a has-been rock manager who takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan. When Richie finds himself in Kabul, abandoned, penniless and without his passport, he discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice and manages her through Afghanistan's version of "American Idol," the wildly popular "Afghan Star." (C) Open RoadWebsite: www.rockthekasbahmovie.com