In my campaign review for Rock the Kasbah I wrote:
I like this campaign, even if I can’t shake the feeling that the movie itself has an off-kilter vibe that’s not completely conveyed in the marketing. It’s like the trailers in particular are trying to make the movie fit into a X formula but in reality the film itself has got this other, completely different tone and rhythm to it that only comes through around the edges of the campaign. Maybe that’s me reading too much into a few little clues as well as the simple presence of Murray in a movie directed by Levinson, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not far off. That could mean it’s a quirky masterpiece whose humor didn’t come through very well in the marketing, or it could mean it’s a mess of a movie whose marketing did everything it could to polish a turd.
Unfortunately it’s very much the latter. There are all kinds of problems with the movie, from the story to Willis’ entire character to the performances by some of the other co-stars. In retrospect the marketing did what it could to bring it all together but it’s easy to see why critics and the few members of the audience who saw it didn’t do more to praise it.
Murray gives it his all, but it can’t decide if it’s a serious movie about helping someone who’s been repressed by society achieve an impossible dream or a comedic character study of an aging wannabe who just can’t catch a break. So it tries to be both at the same time and comes off as very uneven. The best moments are whenever Bruce Willis isn’t on-screen and when Murray is at his most restrained. It’s the odd instance where the more he lets loose the more off-kilter the entire movie becomes, as if he’s trying to break out of the confines he’s in but just rocking the boat, not helping it rise to new heights.