Rock the Kasbah (2015): Levinson’s Afghanistan-Set Comedy, Starring Bill Murray

Barry Levinson directed this messy comedy, written by Mitch Glazer who freely adapted the superior 2009 documentary, Afghan Star.

Our Grade: D+ (* out of *****)

Bill Murray plays Richie Lanz,, a has-been rock manager who takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of war-torn Afghanistan.

In Kabul, abandoned, penniless and without U.S. passport, Richie discovers a young Afghan girl Salima Khan (Leem Lubany) with an extraordinary voice, and becomes her manager for an Afghanistan’s version of the popular show American Idol.

Cast in a role familiar to his and to his fans, a lovable anarchic losers, Murray brings some light and fun to an otherwise shapeless comedy, poorly helmed by Levinson.

But the comedy is all premise, devoid of funny plot or engaging characters; it would have worked better as a sketch on TV’s SNL.

The film was greeted by unfavorable response (92 percent negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes).  Released by Open Road on October 23, 2015, it earned a dismal $1.5 million on its first weekend.