Rock the Kasbah | Salt Lake City Weekly
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  Rated R · 106 minutes · 2015

It’s staggering to see the contortions a movie will go through to take a story about a non-white, non-American woman and make it about a white American guy. The inspiration comes from events portrayed in the 2009 documentary Afghan Star, with a young Pashtun woman named Salima (Leem Lubany) risking her life to sing—against cultural proscriptions—on a popular televised talent show in Afghanistan. But the central character here is Richie Lanz (Bill Murray), a washed-up talent agent who takes his lone client (Zooey Deschanel) on a USO tour to Kabul and winds up involved with black-market gun-runners (Danny McBride and Scott Caan), an American prostitute (Kate Hudson), a mercenary civilian contractor (Bruce Willis) and tribal in-fighting. That’s a ridiculous number of balls to keep in the air in order to focus the story on Richie’s career redemption—and for a while, it’s almost perversely fascinating watching director Barry Levinson juggle them. But not even the chance to see Murray in vintage huckster mode is worth the flop sweat, or the uncomfortable sense that a woman’s life is made the B-plot relative to a man’s pride.


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Director: Barry Levinson
Producer: Mitch Glazer, Ethan Smith, Bill Block, Steve Bing and Jacob Pechenik
Cast: Bill Murray, Arian Moayed, Kate Hudson, Leem Lubany, Bruce Willis, Scott Caan, Danny McBride, Zooey Deschanel, Fahim Fazil and Taylor Kinney

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