Kate Hudson, Bill Murray
“ROCK THE KASBAH” My rating: C
100 minutes | MPAA rating: R
“Rock the Kasbah” is what the Brits call a “toss off.”
Director Barry Levinson’s latest is so lightweight that one comes away wondering if the whole project wasn’t just an excuse to hang out with some amusing people in an exotic location.
Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) is a former rock ‘n’ roll tour manager whose best years are long behind him. Now he runs scams on hopelessly untalented “singers” looking for their big break.
He lucks into a USO tour of Afghanistan using his Girl Friday (Zoe Deschenel) as the “star,” but the young lady is so appalled by Kabul’s chaos and violence that she bails, taking Richie’s passport and money with her.
Stranded in a strange world, Richie is adopted by a couple of stoner gun runners (Danny McBride, Scott Caan) who recruit him to make a delivery of ammo to a remote village.
There Richie discovers a great talent, a beautiful girl named Salima (Leem Lubany) who defies tradition and religious edict by retreating to a cave and singing her heart out. (All she knows are Cat Stevens tunes, but it’s a start.)
Richie comes up with a plan to get Salima on Afghanistan’s version of “American Idol.” Except that in doing so he will be outraging half the nation — the male half — and putting both their lives in danger.
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Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch
“A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD” My rating: D (Opening wide on Feb. 15)
97 minutes | MPAA rating: R
“A Good Day to Die Hard” hits the trifecta.
Actually, I was looking forward to the latest in the perennial series about NYC cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) who seems always to find himself in over his head with one crisis or another.
His last outing, 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard,“ was a superior action film, thanks to the effective direction of Len Wiseman (of the “Underworld” franchise).
But “A Good Day…” finds the suddenly-ham-fisted John Moore in charge, and the thing is so goshawful from the first frame that I was tempted to get up after 10 minutes and call it a night. Alas, professional responsibility kept me seated.
At least this “Die Hard” is relatively short.
Skip Woods’ screenplay (his previous credits include the execrable “A-Team” and the barely better “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) begins with John McClane saying goodbye to his daughter at an airport. Apparently his estranged son Jack has gotten into some legal problems in Russia.
Once in Moscow John witnesses a terrorist attack on a courtroom where Jack (Aussie actor Jai Courtney) and the billionaire Russian dissident Komarov (Sebastian Koch), are on trial. Turns out that far from being a criminal, Jack is a CIA agent assigned to rescue Komarov from the inside. (Why Komarov is important to the US is never explained. Get used to it.)
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