'Rock The Kasbah' fails to live up to the hype of big name stars

With a cast of big name actors like the great comedian Bill Murray, action star Bruce Willis, girl-next-door Kate Hudson and quirky Zooey Deschanel, a person would expect a masterpiece on the silver screen. 

"Rock the Kasbah" had the names it needed to pull off a great movie, but it certainly won't make anyone remember its own.

The film is set in Afghanistan, and is purportedly a true story about the Afghan version of American Idol. The story follows Murray's character, Richie Lanz, who is best classified as a washed-up music manager who pretends like his legacy is bigger than it actually is. Throughout the film he tells other characters that he used to manage big name acts such as Madonna, only to confess that it was all a lie in the end.

Zooey Deschanel, who's character only appeared briefly within the first 20 minutes of the film, was wasted as an actress.

Each actor and actress gave sentimental, contrived performances. Murray fit his role of mid-life crisis rocker with apathy, often looking bored on camera and delivering lines without any bravado. The others did nothing to impress. The acting wasn't necessarily bad. The whole cast are Hollywood vets, but they all gave lukewarm performances.

Not to mention that the soundtrack was expected and cliche, picking the most generic songs that fit the scene. It consisted of a lot of "dad rock" and led me to believe I may not have been the target audience for this film anyway. 

Likewise, Bruce Willis plays an older mercenary who is rather sympathetic, but never fully gets his story developed. From what we can gather, he's in Afghanistan because that is where his work has taken him. He is maybe writing a memoir, as this becomes a motivation later in the movie for him to stay and fight instead of retreating to cover. However, it's overall not a believable portrayal and if I was Willis, I would disappointed in the character development.

The comedy and humor of the film is crude and tries hard for laughs. There is a scene, right after Murray's character hooks up with an escort, where a soldier enters the house and finds Murray tied up to the bed posts, wearing a wig and lipstick with nothing but a towel to him. Obviously, this situation was supposed to be funny, but not many people were laughing. I was ashamed for Bill Murray, for an actor who has already been through the film industry and has now reached a golden age of being able to whatever he wants, why would he stoop so low for common laughs? And to not even hit the mark!

There are also elements that I feel could veer on the insulting side for people of Afghan culture. For example, the ending skit involves Murray's character attempting to haggle with a native shopkeeper who doesn't speak English. Murray's character ends up essentially talking down to him and the shopkeeper fills the role of naive and dumb. This is done for laughs but again, but doesn't hit the mark like everything else in this movie. 

Overall, it comes down to the fact that even an all-star cast could not save this film from the bad writing, insensitive politics and disastrous execution.


Reach the reporter at lsaether@asu.edu or follow @looooogaaan on Twitter.

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