Rock the Kasbah Blu-ray Review

Whenever Bill Murray signs onto a new film I get this twinge of cautious excitement. I have this nostalgic vision of him which brings to mind films like GROUNDHOG DAY and GHOSTBUSTERS, then I have the other images of him in ALOHA, PASSION PLAY and several others, which makes me a little sad. But with ROCK THE KASBAH, I was optimistically hesitant.  I had high hopes for Murray since he was teamed with a seasoned director in Barry Levinson and had a seemingly good script to work with. Unfortunately, something went wrong from the planning stages to the finished product.

Bill Murray in Rock the Kasbah

ROCK THE KASBAH follows Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) as he is trying to save his dying music managing career by taking his most promising performer, Ronnie (Zoey Deschanel) to Afghanistan for a USO tour. But Ronnie isn’t ready for the pressure of touring and she soon abandons him, leaving him in the the war-torn country to fend for himself.  After agreeing to a shady deal with some fellow Americans, he stumbles upon a gifted female singer named Salima (Leem Lubany) who wants to go on the popular television show, Afghan Star. The problem is that females singing in public is forbidden in the country and usually results in exile or death for both the female and possibly her family.

Bill Murray in Rock the Kasbah

So right off the bat, we have the ever endearing Bill Murray, a timely and important story and a uniquely true story at that.  So the ingredients were there to make a great film, but not much about ROCK THE KASBAH actually works.  I put a lot of blame on director Barry Levinson, who is way past his RAIN MAN days.  Quentin Tarantino has famously said directors lose their touch after ten or so films and Levinson might be the best proof of that theory.  With Kasbah, Levinson seemed to have no connection to his story or his characters.

Bill Murray is an incredibly astounding actor who has the uncanny ability to come off like a sleaze ball but still be somewhat lovable. He played this part very well in ROCK THE KASBAH, which was the only reason this film was watchable. His character, Richie Lanz, is quite unlikeable and tends to grind on the nerves most when he lies about all the famous people he supposedly discovered or had connections to in the industry. Lanz’s situation is grim, but it’s hard to feel sorry for him since you know he brought most of it on himself. The supporting cast which also included Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride and Scott Caan did a good job, but their parts were minimal for the weight the actors brought to the marquee. Surely they just took this job to work with Murray, in which case, good for them because he truly is a Hollywood legend.

Bill Murray in Rock The Kasbah

The plot for ROCK THE KASBASH is based on true events which was mildly interesting, but there were several other subplots that were thrown into the mix so the whole the film seemed to lack focus which made the 1 hour 46-minute run time seem much longer than it actually was. If some of the unnecessary scenes were cut (like the sweet scene with Murray’s daughter) it may have made the film a little better, but it’s highly doubtful.

ROCK THE KASBAH is for die-hard Bill Murray fans only and everyone else is going to walk out disappointed.


Video: This was a nice transfer from Universal and the Blu-ray really showcased the film’s variety of settings.

Audio: The audio was fine



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