Take a Drink: at every celebrity Richie name drops with a made-up story. (Take Two: for Madonna)
Take a Drink: whenever Kate Hudson has different nail polish (yes, these are the things I began noticing. You’ll understand.)
Take a Drink: every time someone mentions Afghan Star.
Take a Drink: for every handshake.
Take a Drink: whenever you check your watch.
Do a Shot: for every gunshot.
By: BabyRuth (Five Beers) –
Hey guys, do you like Bill Murray? Isn’t he awesome? You know how he’s always popping up in the strangest places and doing wacky things?
Well, here comes Rock the Kasbah and this is the Bill Murray you love!
That’s what the ads said anyway. Enough that for the, oh I don’t know, twentieth time this year, I got my hopes up for a movie. And for the twentieth time this year, I was let down.
Thanks Amy, I’ll remember that for next time because I’m excited for Sisters.
I wasn’t wrong for being optimistic about this one, right? Bill Murray playing a rock manager? And then he goes to Afghanistan? Okay sure, why not? And he sings? And Bruce Willis is there? Yeah, that looks and sounds fun. Weird, but fun.
So as I mentioned, Bill Murray stars as Bill Murray, I mean Richie Lanz, a struggling music manager operating out of cheap motel in Van Nuys and preying on fame-hungry suckers. He has one sort-of promising client, his assistant Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel), and manages to land her a gig performing on a USO tour in Afghanistan.
Upon arrival in Kabul, Ronnie promptly changes her mind and splits, along with Richie’s money and, for some reason, his passport.
So there’s the setup (which takes quite some time to get through), and now Richie is stranded and broke. He gets mixed up with some arms dealers (Scott Caan and Danny McBride), a mercenary (Bruce Willis at his most Bruce Willis), a nice, disco-loving taxi driver (Arian Moayed), and a hooker (Kate Hudson).
Eventually (again, it takes forever to get there), the story moves to a small Pashtun village where Richie hears a young woman named Salima (Leem Lubany) singing in a cave and gets the brilliant idea to manage her as a contestant on Afghan Star, an American Idol-type television show that actually exists. But this is Afghanistan, and such a thing has never been done before (in the film it hasn’t, in real-life it has and serves as the inspiration for the fictional story). A female “shamelessly” singing on TV would incite outrage, riots, honor killings! Yeah, yeah, yeah, but everybody loves Bill Murray, surely he can figure out a way to smooth everything out.
The film gets off to a decent enough start with the whole fish-out-of-water premise and there are a few almost-laughs, suggesting there’s more and better to come.
But it never does. Instead, it plods along, with the story taking weird and convoluted turns. Characters appear and then completely disappear, never to be spoken of again. The main plotline doesn’t kick in until nearly an hour in and when it does, the tone shifts from a silly comedy into a halfhearted attempt at political commentary, then goes for a big sentimental finish that’s about as satisfying as a turd splashing into the toilet (you’re just glad it’s over.)
I’m not exaggerating. This isn’t a case of “there’s a good movie somewhere in here,” it’s all just a bad, incoherent mess. I had the same frustrated feeling watching it as I did during this year’s earlier Aloha (which also stars Murray), but at least in that film, I was able to understand what Cameron Crowe was going for. I have absolutely no idea was screenwriter Mitch Glazer was attempting with this. And Barry Levinson’s direction doesn’t help in the least in making heads and tails of it.
It’s painfully unfunny. Sorry, even Bill Murray’s shtick can’t save lame material, even if you have him sing or dress in drag (both of which occur). Every, and I do mean every, joke lands with a thud. A Murray ad-libbed scene that plays over the closing credits is the closest the movie gets to an actual giggle.
It’s so bad, there’s even a Groundhog Day reference (a conversation between Willis and Murray’s characters about a day with “you’re just repeating the same thing over and over,” or something like that) that basically tries to subliminally remind the viewer “hey remember that Bill Murray movie you loved? Look, it’s Bill Murray!”)
Quick, picture Bill Murray and Kate Hudson having kinky sex!
No? You don’t want to?
That’s kind of gross?
Sorry, too bad. Thankfully, we only see the aftermath, but still, eww.
Stop it! Stop it!
Speaking of Hudson, she’s horribly miscast in the ol’ hooker with a heart of gold love interest role. Her character, named Merci, often mentions that she is reaching retirement, implying she’s been servicing the daily line outside her double-wide trailer for a pretty long time, but she looks as fresh-faced and hippie chic as ever, though now with a southern accent.
Merci’s revealed to be a savvy businesswoman with a big plan, but exactly how is the decision to become a prostitute in Afghanistan a smart career move?
This movie is supposedly about Salima (there’s even a dedication to the real-life inspiration behind her character) but she’s really just a plot device to aid in Richie’s redemption.
You know, that whole white-savior thing? Ugh.
Rock the Kasbah is an excruciating watch and as tone-deaf as Murray’s rendition of “Smoke on the Water.” I’d recommend skipping it like a vacation to Afghanistan, but it will likely already be gone from the theaters by the time you are reading this. So let’s just pretend it never happened.