Rock the Kasbah - Misguided wartime comedy from director Barry Levinson. Bill Murray stars as Richie Lanz, a has-been music artist manager struggling to pay the bills. When he gets an offer to escort one of his clients, singer Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel), to a USO gig in Afghanistan, he can't pass up the money. But things don't work out as planned, and Richie finds himself mixed up with crass American arms dealers Jake (Scott Caan) and Nick (Danny McBride), scary private military contractor Bombay Brian (Bruce Willis), a hooker with a flair for costumes (Kate Hudson), and young Pashtun woman Salima (Leem Lubany) who wants to be a singing star, despite the fact that she'll likely be killed for trying to perform in public. Also featuring Taylor Kinney, Glenn Fleshler, and Fahim Fazli.
American culture clashing with traditional Afghan conservatism is the crux of this story, with side dishes of Western exploitation and loser's redemption. Murray gives it his all, but the script just isn't there, and most of his memorable dialogue seems improvised. Hudson has a fluctuating accent but looks good in her outfits, while Lubany has a nice voice (if it's really her's on the soundtrack). Willis gets to look tough, but he's getting a bit long in the tooth to keep going for the macho shtick. He was always better when he was subverting that archetype, anyway. By the time the story begins to heavily focus on the Afghani version of American Idol, you realize that Levinson and screenwriter Mitch Glazer didn't have anywhere interesting to take this story, and the many flailing story threads that could have led to something more in depth are left drifting in the desert wind. 5/10