Barry Levinson‘s Rock The Kasbah (Open Road) opens Friday but hasn’t been liberally press-screened, or at least not to my knowledge. The first screening I was invited to happens tonight. The review embargo is tomorrow morning at 6 am Pacific, but a review by the Village Voice‘s Alan Scherstuhl popped this morning. It’s a fun read. The best part is Schertstuhl’s assessment of the Murray formula:
“Quick! Name the movie where Bill Murray plays a proudly shabby dude who acts like a prick for an hour and then, for reasons of narrative convention rather than character-based truth, shambles toward either heroism or some vague be-nicer enlightenment. Maybe a tougher challenge would be to name the Bill Murray movie where that doesn’t happen: Zombieland? That one where he played FDR as our nation’s most twinkling hand-job enthusiast?
“Whether his sleepy-eyed hero is saving New York (Ghostbusters 1 and 2), his platoon (Stripes), or something more like his own threadbare soul (Scrooged, Groundhog Day, almost all of his whiskery late-career indies), Murray movies mostly hold to template whether they’re playing in the cineplex or the arthouse.
“In the final moments of last year’s miserable St. Vincent, his cantankerous bastard drunk is actually hauled onstage at an elementary school assembly and treated by local parents to a standing ovation, all just for being himself — a guy who in real life you would detest. The wearying thing about this? In those scenes where he’s a prick, Murray can still be an unsavory delight. He’s quite funny as St. Vincent‘s cartoon monster, right up until the movie starts insisting that we have to believe in this guy, too, just the way an Adam Sandler picture would.
“But even that doesn’t hold true in most of the listless and haphazard Rock the Kasbah.”
The bottom line is that Kasbah doesn’t, in Schertsuhl’s eyes, work very well. Again, the review.