Richie Lanz (Bill Murray) is the finest music manager in all of Los Angeles, or at least in the immediate vicinity of the Van Nuys motel room he operates out of: a self-styled showbiz Zelig who hardly needs prompting to tell his starry tales. (Jimi Hendrix? Stevie Nicks? Madonna? All satisfied customers.) Times are tough, though, so when he hears there’s money to be made entertaining troops in Afghanistan—“It’s war, dude! The faucet is open”—he takes the bait. His assistant/primary client (Zooey Deschanel) is less enamored of Kabul, and when she bails, Richie is left in an active war zone sans passport, wallet, and talent. Cue a series of zany capers involving a squinty-eyed mercenary (Bruce Willis), shady American arms dealers (Scott Caan and Danny McBride), and a prostitute with a penchant for free enterprise and macramé bikinis (Kate Hudson). But it’s pure fate, Richie believes, that leads him to a local Pashtun girl (Leem Lubany) whose desire to sing on the Idol-esque TV show Afghan Star is, in her culture, a death sentence.
Your enjoyment of all this will probably depend heavily on your willingness to let the words romp and Taliban coexist for approximately two hours. The movie itself is slight and sometimes outright offensive, though it’s also intermittently amusing and not entirely unself-aware. The best bits hang mostly on Murray, whose gonzo charm is enough to keep Rock from sinking under the weight of its own silliness. C+