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BILL MURRAY IN ROCK THE KASBAH

year: 2015
Unless you go way back to the original SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, after Chevy Chase quit and the new kid took over, and follow Bill Murray's progression from background mediocrity to complete greatness, you'll discover his brilliant persona began with lounge singer Nick Winters. If you haven't seen any clips of this character, just watch MEATBALLS, STRIPES, GHOSTBUSTERS, to name just a few... And Nick's subliminally in all those: An offbeat, charming, sarcastic, lovable loser... Only in ROCK THE KASBAH, with a title taken from a Clash tune and directed by Barry Levinson, Bill's oblivious loser denies being one, but admits to always eventually quitting.

Where it all began
After a second wind of indie films including LOST IN TRANSLATION and almost any Wes Anderson project, Murray became a cool uncle for the millennial hipster generation, and now he's back in breezy old school form: Not that this movie's nearly as great as those aforementioned classics, but it's a personality-driven vehicle for the most part, taking Murray's desperate, low-rent music manager Richie Lanz from America to, of all places... for rushed and not very logical reasons... Afghanistan, where, after losing his flakey, reluctant "talent," winds up discovering a secret local sensation to eventually perform on a reality television show, Afghan Star, their form of American Idol.

At the very end it's noted this is a true story: And during the third act the plot shifts from Murray conning his way in and out of (never very suspenseful) trouble... often with the help of maverick soldier Bruce Willis and hooker Kate Hudson... into a determined belief that this Afghan singer, a young lady living in a country where females have little to no artistic freedom, will overcome the odds. And while the fusion of comedy and drama becomes a bit awkward, and Murray's Richie is no Nick Winters (his spontaneous sitar rendition of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" is an obvious attempt at SNL homage), John Winger or Dr. Peter Venkman, there are a few witty moments. Yet it's his genuine style of solid acting that not only makes the picture work, but should casually appease all generations of Bill Murray fans.

RATING: ***1/2
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