It almost feels like a holiday whenever a movie with Barry Levinson hits the theaters. But when the lead part of the film is played by the great Bill Murray, supported by Bruce Willis and Kate Hudson, you already know what ever this film has prepared for you, it simply can’t go wrong. Rock the Kasbah is quite surprising, entertaining, hilarious, and sometimes emotional film about how one man named Richie Lanz discovers a teenage girl with an extraordinary voice while on full of trouble music tour in Afghanistan and takes her to Kabul to compete on the popular television show, Afghan Star. Despite the trip being full of danger, should we really worry about it much when Bill Murray is the one who leads you towards the end of destination? That part I will leave up to you to find out….
Film begins with Richie Lanz, who is an aging and unsuccessful music manager, who promises a big future to a new music star, while he can’t even support himself. Finding out about the musical tour in Afghanistan organised for American soldiers, Richie takes Roonie (Zooey Deschanel) with him to his trip hoping to fix his financial problems. But once he reaches Kabul, he finds himself robbed and without passport by Roonie, who is terrified by the dangerous environment she finds herself in. Being alone, but not so desperate, Lanz finds a young woman, with talkable name, Merci (Kate Hudson) who “pleases” lonely men in Kabul. After their unforgettable first rendezvous, the duo develop a bond that help both of them to escape the unfortunate reality they are in.
The turning point starts when Richie hears the beautiful voice of Salima in the cave, in Pashtuns village and decides to bring her to the tv show, Afghan Voice. But nothing seems so easy, as the Pushtuns women are forbidden from singing or appearing in a public place, and for that, they can even get killed. But the desire to prove that he is not wrong, and moreover, to help the young woman, Lanz risks everything he has, and at that point, his life, in order to convince the entire Afghanistan to give Salima a chance. But before he does that, he needs to get approval of her father, who is heavily armed, but, not as tough as he appears.
Rock the Kasbah may not be a masterpiece, however, with the plot, approach, and the performances the film delivers what it aimed: avoiding cliché, that could have distanced you from its point. Kate Hudson is simply stunning as Merci, and delivers some unforgettable lines, wishing she had more screening time. Overall, it’s a crowd pleasing film with hilarious moments that makes Levinson’s film an enjoyable ride. It manages to keep you busy throughout the film, and not load with unnecessary information, but rather, relaxed atmosphere, which sometimes, is all what we need in order to spend a productive Friday-evening-movie time.