On paper, Rock the Kasbah sounds like a sure thing. The director of Good Morning, Vietnam making a film about the war in Afghanistan, with Bill Murray in the lead role? What could go wrong?
Quite a lot, as it turns out.
The finished film is a mess; it starts out as a satire of American interventionism and somehow ends up as a feel-good underdog story with Murray as the wise, white mentor to a young Pashtun girl who dreams of singing. Murray is stuck on affable autopilot, while Bruce Willis seems to have no idea what he’s doing here.
The best one can say of Rock the Kasbah is that its culturally insensitive moments feel ill-judged rather than malicious. It’s not trying to punch down – it’s just not funny.
CAST: Bill Murray, Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Leem Lubany, Bruce Willis
DIRECTOR: Barry Levinson
WRITER: Mitch Glazer
SYNOPSIS: A down-on-his-luck music manager (Murray) discovers a teenage girl (Lubany) 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.