Rock the Kasbah

Critics Consensus

The Shareef don't like Rock the Kasbah, and neither will viewers hoping for a film that manages to make effective use of Bill Murray's knack for playing lovably anarchic losers.



Total Count: 123


Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,625
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Movie Info

A has-been rock manager from Van Nuys, California stumbles upon a once-in-a-lifetime voice in a remote Afghan cave in Rock the Kasbah, a dramatic comedy inspired by stranger-than-fiction, real-life events and directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson. Richie Lanz (Bill Murray), dumped and stranded in war-torn Kabul by his last remaining client (Zooey Deschanel), discovers Salima Khan (Leem Lubany), a Pashtun teenager with a beautiful voice and the courageous dream of becoming the first woman to compete on national television in Afghanistan's version of "American Idol." Richie partners with a savvy hooker (Kate Hudson), a pair of hard-partying war profiteers (Danny McBride and Scott Caan) and a hair-trigger mercenary (Bruce Willis) and, braving dangerous cultural prejudices, manages his new protégée into becoming the "Afghan Star."

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Critic Reviews for Rock the Kasbah

All Critics (123) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (113)

  • It's a strangely lacklustre film that's happy to plonk Murray in a vaguely interesting crisis situation -- in this case, war-torn Afghanistan -- and just hope for the best.

    Mar 18, 2016 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Unfunny, and also casually offensive.

    Mar 18, 2016 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • Leaving aside the galloping misogyny, 'Rock the Kasbah' just isn't remotely funny or smart.

    Mar 14, 2016 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • As one-liner after one-liner misses its mark, you begin to feel sorry for Murray, who's really too old to be playing a guy who has a little daughter ... and likes to get kinky with Kate Hudson as a raucous, Dolly Parton-style hooker-businesswoman.

    Oct 23, 2015 | Full Review…
  • It needs a smarter script. It needs at least two or three perfectly engineered, joke-after-joke sequences. It needs a smart director - did you really do "Wag the Dog," Levinson? - whose idea of political satire goes beyond freshman-year sarcasm.

    Oct 23, 2015 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Not Murray's best and not Levinson's either.

    Oct 23, 2015 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Rock the Kasbah

  • Jun 16, 2016
    Not totally terrible, but somewhat insensitive tone and setup. Utterly formulaic with annoying archetypes disguised as thinly drawn original characters. If this has been darker in tone and beefier (more character-driven) in plot, it would have been good. Nice framing, production design, costuming. Forgettable and joyless.
    _kelly . Super Reviewer
  • Jun 05, 2016
    I enjoyed this. The typical tale of rags to riches, similar to the likes of Slumdog Millionaire and it had a decent soundtrack too. Not the best moment of Bill Murray but he was still more than competent in this.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 12, 2016
    Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, and Zooey Deschanel Rock the Kasbah in this quirky lighthearted comedy. The story follows a washed up talent manager who gets stranded in Afghanistan when his performer abandons the USO tour, but he soon sees an opportunity after learning about a singing competition called Afghan Star and discovers a singer that he thinks could go all the way. The performances are all really good, particularly Willis; who does an impressive job at delivering the dry, sardonic humor. And the soundtrack is especially well-done, doing an excellent job at setting the tone and bringing energy to the film. Tremendously entertaining, Rock the Kasbah is a lot of fun and has a positive message about the power of music.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2016
    This is the worst Bill Murray, probably, since either of the Garfield movies. It's one of the few movies that manages to make Bill Murray completely ineffective and charmless. That takes a whole lot of fucking effort. And, I'm sure, that the film means well in paying tribute to one of the first women to compete on Afghan Star, an actual show, with this fictional story. But the way they go about it is decidedly retrograde. They had the chance to tell an inspirational story about a woman chasing her dreams in a society that treats women, openly, as subservient and not as worthy as men. But they chose to go with the 'white savior' route, that somebody mentions here, with Bill Murray coming to a foreign country and showing the backwards and ignorant people there how things should really be done. It's a little backwards to be completely honest with you. And it's not even that, because, even with that, you can still have a good movie. The Help was something similar to this, with Emma Stone playing the author that got these black maids' stories out there, and I never finished that movie, but it was quite a good movie up to the point I did see. The problem comes first in the fact that, honestly, the movie is just not that interesting despite being inspired by an inspirational real-life story. Second of all, and this is the biggest problem, are the obvious tonal issues the film suffers from. It doesn't know if it wants to be a comedy or a drama. It's not that funny, so I'm quite surprised that they even managed to make a trailer out of this. I can understand the film wanted to mix comedy with drama, but the way this movie went about was really unskillful. Like they had no idea how to actually execute it. And this film was made by Barry Levinson who, pre-2000s, had a pretty good track record. He did Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam, Wag the Dog, among others. So he's got some pretty great movies under his belt. Which is why this film completely missing the mark when it came to comedy is so perplexing. The movie needed like a good stretch of comedy that never actually came, so, because of that, and because of the fact that it takes almost an hour for Richie to discover Salima, this movie really fucking dragged. Characters disappear without a trace, movie drags along the desert as if dehydrated. It's just a fucking disaster. Perhaps disaster is overstating the point, but this movie just isn't good. It's culturally backwards, poorly written and Bill Murray simply cannot do this on his own. He was handicapped at, pretty much, every possible turn. He needed all the help he could get and, while he tries, it was simply not enough. It's a lifeless and charmless film. Tone deaf and just, really, a poorly made film all around. Bad movie, so I cannot really recommend this in the slightest, even if you love Bill Murray.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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