You probably know his films but you may not know the man who made them. Barry Levinson has been working as a Hollywood director since the late seventies. He began his career by directing a made-for-TV-movie called Peeping Times which allowed him to helm the much beloved 1982 film entitled Diner. Since then he has gone on to make such notable films as: The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam, Rain Man, and Wag the Dog. Even though his past work has earned him critical acclaim, his last several films have been major disappoints among critics. His newest film called Rock the Kasbah, is an attempt by Levinson to bring a fresh new voice to his film legacy.
Bill Murray plays Richie Lanz, a sleazy, downtrodden music manager who decides to bring one of his female singers to Afghanistan in order to entertain the troops. While over there she decides to take his passport, all of his money, and skip out on him. Left with next to nothing, Richie is forced to take a nefarious job that leads him to discover a teenage Afghani girl with an incredible voice.
Even though this film has many aspects that could have been incredible; lazy writing, directing, and editing make it almost a chore to watch. Firstly, it’s not very funny. Bill Murray does the best with what he is given but most of the time it feels like the dialogue he delivers is either ad-libbed or was written in a very haphazard way. You may chuckle under your breathe a couple of times but nothing that he does or says will have you laughing out loud. In contrast, the only truly notable comedic performance comes from Danny McBride but his lack of screen time doesn’t make a big enough dent on the comedy spectrum.
Even though Levinson is known as a very well-respected director, throughout the film it feels as if he fell asleep from time to time. Poorly thought-out compositions, scenes that have absolutely no life to them, and actors that look like they just walked on set make up a good portion of the film as a whole. This is especially true when it comes to any scene that involves Bruce Willis. His character is supposed to be an over-confident mercenary-type but comes across as a tattooed man that simply enjoys holding guns and saying quips.
Adding to the slate of negativity about the film is the editing. Scenes that have no context on why they are even there and shots that are used simply because they ran out of footage is a major issue. One such shot involves the antagonist of the film glaring at Bill Murray. Since they obviously didn’t shoot what they needed while on set, they decided to crop a another shot of the antagonist in the background that is completely out of focus. It is incredibly lazy and something they didn’t even need to do in order to get their point across.
As you can tell, I really didn’t like this film but I didn’t hate it either. The story is fun and different and the ending resolves in a very nice and entertaining way. However, the faults on the production side really drag down the story to the lowest denominator. With that being said I can’t really recommend Rock the Kasbah unless you simply have to see every Bill Murray film.
Rock the Kasbah:[usr 2]
About Rock the Kasbah
Synopsis: A sleazy music manager stumbles upon a teenage Afghani girl with an incredible voice while stuck in Afghanistan.
Director: Barry Levinson
Writer: Mitch Glazer
Stars: Bill Murray, Kate Hudson, Bruce Willis, Zooey Deschanel
Runtime: 100 min
Just call me “Turbo” because it sums me up in a single word. I’m originally from Visalia, California but currently reside in Mesa, Arizona. I’m a movie and video game fanatic with a BA in Film and Media Production from ASU. I try to see every movie that I can (new and old) as well as play the latest video game releases. My goal in life would be to create a feature length film which viewers absolutely love. However, until then I love to entertain people with my 100+ voice impersonations as well as fill them in with the latest movie/ gaming news on Twitter. Facebook.com/turbizl, Twitter: @turbizl