6 Stories In Search Of A Director
Rock The Kasbah
Stars: Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, Danny McBride, Scott Caan, Kelly Lynch, Taylor Kinney and Leem Lubany
Director: Barry Levinson
Scriptwriter: Mitch Glazer
Composer: Marcello Zarvou
Open Road FilmsRating: R for profanity and themed material
Running Length: 100 minutes
Bill Murray’s latest film, “Rock The Kasbah,” looks good on paper. Bruce Willis and Kate Hudson also star, plus Barry Levinson directs from a script by Mitch Glazer. However, out in the field, time is wasted by following Murray walking in the desert or just speaking to the camera, apparently whatever comes to mind. Thus, the story of a young Afghan girl, Salima (Leem Lubany) who goes against tradition to appear on the Afghan version of “American Idol,” is mediocre and loses its punch rapidly. Good soundtrack, though.
Bill Murray is Richie, a wanna-be talent agent who talks big but has nothing to prove. His current talent, Zooey Deschanel, is ready to leave him when all he can bring in are small dates in hazy night clubs. There, he meets a guy who thinks Zooey is great and offers them a USO tour to Afghanistan---pay included. They are on their way with Zooey airsick (here comes the vomit sequence) and afraid of any man wearing a beard and head covering. When they land, the airport is like a barn, military are there to protect them (Taylor Kinney who is engaged to Lady Gaga), bombings are in the distance with gunfire, and their hotel room is a minus-4 star. Zooey leaves, taking with her all of Richie’s money and passport. He really has to make it on his own. Scott Caan (“Hawaii Five-O”) and Danny McBride are two guys who pick Richie up and they end up at a night club in a no man’s land. Their road trip there is a rare highlight of dark humor. Otherwise, there is a friendly cab driver who helps Richie, and it is out in the desert that Richie hears a beautiful voice. Enter Leem Lubany and the push begins to pacify her family and bring her to the attention of the contest judges and emcee. Along the way, we meet Kate Hudson as a lady-of-the-night (barely clothed) who likes Richie, and Bruce Willis (always in combat gear) who seems to be a mercenary, but befriends Richie. Between the camera work (Bill Murray’s feet) and a meandering storyline, attention is hard to come by. Neither Bruce Willis or Kate Hudson’s roles are essential to the story.
There was a documentary a few years ago, "Afghan Star" (2009), telling the true story of young women who wanted to sing on the Afghan version of “American Idol” and how it endangered their lives. That is touched upon in this film. The interesting part of "Rock The Kasbah" is not the singing or finding a new talent, it is at the beginning of the movie, and the relationship between Zooey and Bill. She has stayed with him, even though she has a good voice and could do it on her own. But he is an agent---true to his word there, at least---and she signed with him. It is when air sickness, bombs and flop house hotel accommodations occur that she has reached her limit. When Murray is on his own, the film wanders. Wardrobe was inexpensive, and Kate Hudson’s costumes were string, net and thin scarves.
Dialogue appears improvised at times and the spark is gone.
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner