ROCK THE KASBAH (review)
ROCK THE KASBAH
Written by Mitch Glazer / Directed by Barry Levinson / Starring Bill Murray, Zooey Deschanel and Bruce Willis
Richie Lanz: I’m royally f#$%ed.
Hotel Manager: Welcome to Afghanistan.
If previews of ROCK THE KASBAH, the latest effort from director Barry Levinson (GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM) and screenwriter Mitch Glazer (SCROOGED) have left you full of anticipation for a hilarious night out at the theatre with everyone’s favourite pop culture icon (Bill Murray) then prepare to be disappointed. Sorely lacking in both plot and humour, the film is unfortunately little more than a waste of its cast’s talent and your time.
Bill Murray plays Richie Lanz, a washed-up music manager who’s resorted to conning aspiring “singers” after having them first audition in his Van Nuys motel room-turned-office. He has one client, Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel), who performs Meredith Brooks covers at dodgy nightclubs in her stilettos and skin-tight leopard print pants. When a drunk patron enlightens him as to the financial possibilities of having Ronnie tour Afghanistan and sing for the troops, Richie decides that’s the break he’s been waiting for and drags his terrified protégé across the world for an experience neither will soon forget. But when Ronnie decides the excursion is more than she can handle and leaves Richie to fend for himself, broke and with no ID in the war-torn nation, his dreams of the imminent financial windfall quickly dissipate.
This is also the point where the already-weak plot begins to unravel into a bungled mess. Characters come in and out and you’re never quite sure why. You think the story’s going one way, only for it to suddenly do a 180 and veer in another direction completely. All of which might be excusable if the film were actually funny.
But that’s perhaps ROCK THE KASBAH’s biggest fault. Not only is it not even close to hilarious, you’d be generous to give it a few hopeful chuckles. Unless, of course, you find driving over an IED guffaw-worthy. Levinson may be trying to be witty in his social commentary, but it certainly doesn’t come off that way. Instead, you get the feeling that the filmmakers were relying solely on Murray’s charm to carry the film and even Murray isn’t charming enough to carry this mess.
How many sheep would you give Rock the Kasbah?