HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Rock the Kasbah
HTS Overall Score:64
You know, the one thing about a comedy that makes it a COMEDY is the fact that the movie is funny. Billed as a comedy with a string of highly decorated actors like Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Zooey Deschanel, and Kate Hudson one would really hope that there would be SOMETHING funny about “Rock the Kasbah”. Unfortunately we have a long string of embarrassing sequences that are MEANT to be funny, but in reality are just Bill Murray dozing through his lines waiting for the director to yell cut. Bill Murray has been coasting through the last 10-12 years of his film career on his laurels and good name, but this is an all-time low for the comedic actor as he plays a role that is so thankless and so mind numbing that I know I actually saw Bill fall asleep on set.
Washed up old talent agent Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) is at the end of his rope. He’s had it all (according to him he’s made people like Madonna, Jimi Hendrix and had a torrid string of love affairs with famous musicians and authors……including Danielle Steele), and now life has kind of beaten him down a bit. Claiming to still be on top of the game he schmoozes wannabe talent and fleeces them for a quick buck before dumping them as fast as you can say Jiminy Cricket. Hearing of some big time money by playing to soldiers in Afghanistan, Riche takes his ONE real client, a singer named Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel) across the ocean and into the sands of the Afghan. Once there Ronnie has a much understood change of heart and ditches the old man in his hotel, but not before she steals his money and his passport as well.
Stuck in Afghanistan, Richie has two weeks before he can get his papers in order and has to make due in the Arab country until he can get enough funds and paperwork together to skedaddle overseas to give Ronnie a good tongue lashing. While there he has some wonderful liaisons with the merc who helped Ronnie get out of dodge, one Bombay Brian (Bruce Willis), a few gun runners (played by Scott Caan and Danny McBride in one of the few funny scenes of the whole movie), as well as running into a lovely young Afghan singer named Salima (Leem Lubany) who is desperate to get to the Reality TV show “Afghan Star” where she’s sure to be discovered as the next great musical talent. You know, another day in the Middle East.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64274[/img]“Rock the Kasbah’ has so many convoluted sub plots that you feel like the director and writers just through everything they possibly could against the wall in the hopes that SOMETHING would stick. Unfortunately it was about as effective as throwing oiled up pasta against said wall as the tired antics of Bill Murray and his supporting crew of actors just slid away and left no trace of anything remotely “sticking”. I honestly haven’t seen such a painful conglomeration of scenes in a theatrically released movie in quite some time. Bill literally looks bored out of his mind and Bruce Willis isn’t much better. Both aging stars were incredible in their prime, but the lack of interest and seeming lack of acting skill just seeps out of their every pore, and even funny man Danny McBride can’t save the films jokes from falling flat as runover skunk.
You can tell that there is a sense of purpose, or at least a DESIRED sense of purpose behind the film. We see political commentary with over militarization, a scathing commentary on musicians and the abused lives they lead and a few other attempts at making something intelligent out of the jambalaya known as this film, but once again nothing seems to actually stick. When the film finally comes to Salima and her musical talent you can tell that this was the end result, and they go for broke till the last moments of the credits with a not very surprising lack of focus. The humor is forced, mainly trying to make funny gags out of things that AREN’T funny, to really hoping that Bill Murray alone can carry a film with his good old fashioned sarcasm. Sarcasm and supposed “wit” that just rings hollow in an every expanding array of actors that are just begging for that “CUT!” line to be thrown out.
Rated R for language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64282[/img]“Rock the Kasbah” at least has a rather impressive 2.40:1 scope encode that eeks every last bit of detail out of the dusty terrain. Since it’s mainly set in Afghanistan be prepared for lots of earthy browns and golden hues infused into the dirty looking environment. The open shots of the Afghan desert is incredibly well detailed with a sea of individual bits of rock and sand intermixed with a hazy dust that is crisp and defined as one could ask for. Fine detail is impressive, with facial detail being the most defined out of the lot. You can see every craggy line and seam in Murray’s face as well as every wispy tufts of what is left of the aging actor’s hair. Black levels are deep and inky, showing of great shadow detail at night, but there is a little bit of digital noise thrown into the mixture. It’s not a whole lot, but it is noticeable during the darker sequences.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64290[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is just as good as the video, with a finely detailed sound stage that uses all 6 speakers with equal aplomb. If you listen carefully to the opening bits of the film you can hear the soft whistling of the desert winds running through brush and over craggy desert out cropping’s. The vocals are impressive and show no signs of distortion or other abnormalities and blend well with the odd musical numbers that are thrown throughout the film. Surround activity is given a boost with some of the more action oriented bits of the movie, and even showcase Bill Murray’s talents at singing (or is it screeching?) more than once. LFE is tight and punchy, adding to the musical score as well as adding a few booms, bangs and pops along the way.
• Deleted Scenes
• Richie Lanz: The Man and the Music
• Bill Murray Rocks
I used to be a HUGE Bill Murray fan, and even though he’s gone the more indie route of Wes Anderson style humor, I still appreciate the quirky actor. I grew up with classics like “Kingpin”, “Ghost Busters I and II”, “Lost in Translation” and even his cameo in the wildly hysterical “Grand Budapest Hotel”. The same thing goes for Bruce Willis, but the extremely forced and completely boring and unfunny “Rock the Kasbah” is NOT the way I want to remember some of my favorite 80s, and 90’s actors. “Rock the Kasbah” really tried, but unfortunately the actors themselves couldn’t really do much with a rather pedestrian script and just coasted on empty till the engine died. Skip this one if you can possibly help it.
Starring: Bill Murray, Leem Lubany, Zooey Deschanel
Directed by: Barry Levinson
Written by: Mitch Glazer
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 107 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 2nd 2016
Recommendation: Skip It
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