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Rock the Kasbah (2015)

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A down-on-his-luck music manager discovers a teenage girl with an extraordinary voice while on a music tour in Afghanistan and takes her to Kabul to compete on the popular television show, Afghan Star.


Barry Levinson


Mitch Glazer (screenplay)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bill Murray ... Richie Lanz
Bruce Willis ... Bombay Brian
Kate Hudson ... Merci
Zooey Deschanel ... Ronnie
Leem Lubany ... Salima
Arian Moayed ... Riza
Scott Caan ... Jake
Danny McBride ... Nick
Fahim Fazli ... Tariq
Beejan Land ... Daoud (as Beehan Land)
Sameer Ali Khan ... Azam Ghol
Jonas Khan ... Nizar
Husam Chadat ... Nasim
Taylor Kinney ... Private Barnes
Megan Raich ... Brittany


Richie Lanz (Bill Murray), a has-been rock manager takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan. When Richie finds himself in Kabul, abandoned, penniless and without his U.S. passport, he discovers a young Afghan girl named Salima with an extraordinary voice and manages her through Afghanistan's version of American Idol..

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Opportunity rocks when you least expect it.


Comedy | Music | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including sexual references, some drug use and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

23 October 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Afganistani superstaar See more »

Filming Locations:

Morocco See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,470,592, 23 October 2015

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Shia LaBeouf was originally cast, but ultimately backed out. He was replaced by Scott Caan. See more »


When Richie (Bill Murray) and Bombay Brian (Bruce Willis) go to the desert to do deliver the weapons/ammo and collect the money, one of the tribal elders tells them that they are being forced to grow poppy. However, Paktya province is virtually poppy-free, as the altitude is too high for that crop. On the other hand, it is common to find huge fields of marijuana plants. See more »


[first lines]
Maureen: [having just finished singing her audition] Mr. Lanz? I'm done.
Richie Lanz: [long pause] No.
Richie Lanz: Forgive me. No. You're just beginning.
Maureen: You liked it?
Richie Lanz: Liked it? You made me want to swallow poison. And forget pitch, rhythm and tone... and emotional attachment to the lyric or the melody.
Maureen: I'm sorry. I don't think I...
Richie Lanz: A grain of sand slips into an oyster... and irritates the bivalve. What happens?
Maureen: A pearl.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Just after the closing credits begin, there is an inset scene running alongside. In it, Bill Murray haggles with a vendor who offers him colored string. The vendor speaks no English, while Murray carries on his side of the negotiation in English only. Murray rejects the string, saying "Do I look like a guy who uses string?", but he wants to buy a stuffed elephant with mirrors on it because early in the movie he promised to buy his daughter that exact item. In the end he also buys the colored string. See more »


Suerte (Whenever, Wherever)
Written by Shakira (as Shakira Mebarak) and Tim Mitchell
Performed by Shakira
Courtesy of Epic Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Rock the Kasbah" is entertaining, but won't exactly rock your world.
23 October 2015 | by dave-mcclainSee all my reviews

Rock the Kasbah. That three word phrase can mean different things to different people, depending on their personal pop culture awareness and even where they were born. The word Kasbah, which is sometimes spelled with a "c" and sometimes with a "q", traditionally refers to a fortress or a fortified portion of a Muslim city, but can also mean an older section of such a city. Kasbahs are mainly found in North Africa and, apparently, someone named Shareef doesn't like it when you rock a casbah. That's what "The Clash" told us in their 1982 hit song "Rock the Casbah". Those words (with that "c"-spelling) have also been used as the title of a 2013 French-Moroccan dramatic film and another from Israel in 2012. (There was also an American musical in 1948 that simply used the one-word title: "Casbah".) "Rock the Casbah" also happens to be the name of an annual star-studded L.A. party hosted by Virgin Airlines CEO, Sir Richard Branson, and his mother, Eve, to raise money for charitable work in… North Africa. So, now that we've come full circle, it's time to add another casbah/kasbah/qasbah reference to the list – the 2015 Bill Murray comedy "Rock the Kasbah" (R, 1:40), which takes place in… Afghanistan.

Murray plays Richie Lanz, a washed-up Southern California music promoter, overflowing with stories of his relationships with famous rock musicians, but short on recent success. He's even desperate enough to commit cover singer Ronnie Smiler (Zooey Deschanel), the only real client he has left, to a USO tour of American military bases in Afghanistan. Richie literally doesn't know what he's gotten himself into. When reality sets in, Ronnie leaves the country, along with Richie's money and his passport. With no cash, no identification and a two-week wait for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to get him a new passport, he needs other American civilians living in Afghanistan to help him survive until he can get out.

The expats whom Richie meets are quite the colorful cast of characters. Popular local American-born prostitute, Merci (Kate Hudson), helps Richie out… in a number of different ways. (She pronounces her name "Mercy" and is a worldly wise, but sexy-spiritual character.) Then, there's Bombay Brian (Bruce Willis), who is a cross between a mercenary and a very well-armed security guard for hire. Danny McBride and Scott Caan are ammo suppliers, named Nick and Jake, who are making a financial killing, while helping anyone with the money make some literal ones. Richie also gets some much-needed transportation services, street knowledge, cultural education and translation services (not to mention friendship and good advice) from a kind, young Disco-loving local cab driver named Riza (Arian Moayed).

Since he has nowhere to go and nothing to do at the moment, Nick and Jake literally toss Richie a pile of cash to make an ammo delivery to local tribal chief Tariq Khan (Fahim Fazli). Brian is there for security, Riza to translate and Richie for his deal-brokering experience. Richie and Riza end up spending the night in the chief's home. Late at night, while outside taking care of some personal business, Richie hears the beautiful voice of Traiq's daughter Salima (Leem Lubany) singing in the distance. She's inside a cave because women in her culture are not permitted to sing in public. Richie entering the cave scares her off, but the next morning, she hears Richie praising her voice while talking to her father, and she stows away in the trunk of Riza's taxi as he drives Richie back to Kabul. Richie is so enchanted by Salima's singing voice – and the opportunity to manage her – that he uses all his charm and skills to try to get her on the very popular reality TV show "Afghan Star", which is the local equivalent of "American Idol". Performing is Salima's dream and she also sees it as a way to praise Allah, but Allah's other followers in the area see things differently. By helping Salima, Richie and Riza have endangered their lives and hers – and given an opening to a rival leader who thinks Tariq is too soft and would like to replace him as chief.

"Rock the Kasbah" is inspired by the true story of a young female singer in Afghanistan… but it's also a Bill Murray comedy. The advertising tries to… bill this movie as a return to comedic form for Murray. There's definitely some of that smarmy, irreverent humor that made Murray famous in the early 1980s, but not as much as you might think based on the trailers. The film is an entertaining mix of Murray-esque comedic situations, war-time satire, social commentary and old Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam songs. The main characters are generally likable, while the situations are only pseudo-realistic, but the movie is often charming and amusing, if not laugh-out-loud funny. The main problem with the film is that the script, directing and performances soft pedal both the comedy and the drama in an attempt to have it both ways. "Rock the Kasbah" may be worth a look, but don't expect it to rock your world. "B"

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