Obama needs to get his act together, apparently all he needs to do in order to end the troubles in Afghanistan is put a pretty girl with a good voice on TV. Well, that’s if we’re to believe Barry Levinson’s belly flop of a film – Rock the Kasbah. Bill Murray plays Richie Lan, a sleazy music manager who takes his latest client, a ditsy bar singer played by Zooey Deschanel, on a whirlwind tour of Afghanistan. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, inevitably…
What comes next is an onslaught of white guy “in a strange land” clichés. The singer flees on the first night, leaving poor old Richie with no money or way of getting home, (I still don’t quite understand why she felt the need to steal his passport as well as his wallet). Stony faced locals stand around awkwardly as Murray tries to talk himself out of a tight spot.
He also helps out two arms dealers, who are like a cheap comedy duo selling bullets on the side. Richie then meets a lovable prostitute (Kate Hudson) who joins him on a quest to fulfil the dreams of Salima (Leem Lubany), a young woman with suspiciously white teeth for life in the desert, by getting her on Afghanistan’s equivalent of American Idol.
Instead of going down the same route as comedies like M*A*S*H and Good Morning Vietnam, which acknowledge the horrors of war without compromising the laughs, Rock the Kasbah portrays Afghanistan as some sort of playground for dim witted Americans, while every (and I mean every) joke falls flat. While watching you can see what Rock the Kasbah is supposed to be, a heartfelt comedy with bite and some cracking one liners, but it just does not deliver the goods. This is a film that is embarrassing and patronizing for everyone involved; viewers and A-list actors alike. By the end, through good old American rock and roll, Richie saves the day as all of Afghanistan learns to lighten up as Salima has her moment in the spotlight. Well God bless America.
Image: Gage Skidmore; Wikimedia Commons