Jimmy Kimmel Live: Zooey Deschanel and Ben Stein

JIMMY KIMMEL

Jimmy Kimmel Live started off with the host poking fun at Donald Trump. The Trump fun continued with the “Lie Witness News” pre-recorded segment where people on the street were asked about Trump’s appearance on “Dancing With the Stars”.  The show does not air till September but that did not stop them commenting on the non-event.

There was a fake advert with a cameo by Ben Stein and a group who did a video with a baby goat came on to sing to various creatures in the TV studio. The animals ranged from a fluffy white bunny to a cute hedgehog, that no one  seemed to be able to identify.

The singing was funny and slightly cute, but the reaction of one of the singers to the baby chick flying out mid-song was priceless.

The first guest up was Zooey Deschanel who talked about her baby and her child’s first birthday party. The poor kid got a cake with no sugar and did not “smash” the small cake at all. First words were talked about, which included “Bubba” and “ni-ni” along with “cheese.”

Zooey also spoke about directing the first episode of this season’s New Girl which airs September 20 on FOX. They also talked about one of Zooey’s co-stars; Jake Johnson working on a film with Tom Cruise and not being there to be directed by Deschanel.

(The film is obviously the remake of The Mummy.)

Deschanel brought up an interesting fact about the armadillo that had been on the show earlier; they carry the leprosy virus. She then went on to describe the cake she made for her daughter. (Mushed banana and coconut cream.) Unsurprisingly the kid was not impressed.

Zooey and Jimmy also talked about a “New Girl” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” cross-over.

Ben Stein was the next guest. Stein, who is most familiar as the monotoned teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Wonder Years talked about his dislike of Donald Trump and of Hillary Clinton, whom he attended law School with.

Stein and Jimmy took a trip down memory lane and talked about working together on Win Ben Stein’s Money. Ben talked about his many houses, after being prompted by Kimmel, and what moved him to buy the properties.

The English “indie rock” band Glass Animals performed a single from their new album “How To Be Human.”

Earlier in the episode, Jimmy Kimmel Live  poked fun at the upcoming “Dancing With the Stars”  with a fake advert listing all the new contestants. One of these new contestants is Vanilla Ice.

Once again, there was no time for Matt Damon. Jimmy Kimmel Live airs  Monday through Friday  on ABC.

Guests:

Musical GuestsL:  Anthony Hamilton and The Hamiltones and Glass Animals

Rock the Kasbah (2015): Eclectic Wonder (Review)

Bill Murray as Richie Lanz in Rock the Kasbah

Directed by the masterful, and Oscar winning,  Barry Levinson  (Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam) from a script by Mitch Glazer (Scrooged, The Recruit) and starring Oscar Nominee Bill Murray, “Rock the Kasbah” is an eclectic mix of Murray, Afghanistan, dodgy American businessmen and the wonder of televised talent shows.

Murray is Richie Lanz, a small-time talent manager and hustler (he cons a prospective client out of a bit of money at the  start of the film) who has one singer on his roster; Ronnie (Zooey Deschanel) who he books in an Afghanistan tour with the USO.  Lanz claims to have discovered Madonna and interacted with luminaries like Stevie Nicks. 

Once in the country, Lanz and Ronnie discover their luggage never arrived and a nervous Ronnie gets drunk while hanging out with Bombay Bill (Bruce Willis). On the first day Ronnie splits with Richie’s money, plane tickets and passport. The manager is befriended by two arms dealers, Danny McBride and Scott Caan who set him up to be the patsy in a dodgy ammunition sale.

In the desert Richie finds a hidden talent, a local girl who can really sing; in English. He hatches a plot to have her perform on the talent show Afghan Star; a singing competition that women are banned from taking part in.  His new business partner, Kate Hudson channelling her inner (modern) Mae West helps Lanz to get his new discovery; Salima  (Leem Lubany on the show while turning the country on its head.

“Rock the Kasbah” was hammered by the critics when it came out last year and died a dismal death at the box office. The movie going public stayed away in droves and the film is largely seen as a flop.

But…

There is a sly message hidden in the mastery of Murray and co’s performances. Buried in the story is the reality of Americans abroad and at home: They are, xenophobic snobs of the finest order who have little knowledge of other cultures or countries and have the elitist attitude that if it is not their view of life, or taking place within their borders,  it does not count or matter.

It is this inability to place themselves in the other chap’s shoes that brought about the rise of the “ugly American” that all G.I.s are briefed about when they enter a foreign country.  While the film is a comedy it is no surprise that it expired a quick death.  Xenophobes often do not like to be reminded of their shortcomings.

As one writer pointed out in their review of the film,  the movie utilizes certain stereotypes to make its point. This works precisely because of the apathetic ignorance the average citizen has about other cultures. Having to rely upon media to present the Afghanistan people from a clearly biased viewpoint leads to the necessity of stereotypes to make the film work.

Granted the tale is far fetched and the “true incident”  that inspired the film reveals that  the premise of women not being allowed to participate in the talent show to be a falsehood. However, there is some validity in their poetic license. (Stick around till the credits roll and wait for the dedication, then head to Google. All will become clear.)

Murray does his usual job of being an  irascible hustler who is equal parts bulls*t and optimism.  Not on par with his “St. Vincent” performance in 2014, it is, nonetheless worthy of watching;  all the more so if one is a fan of the actor’s work.  (Neither does the part reflect the eclectic genius so evident in “Lost in Translation” the film that netted Murray the Oscar nomination.)

Kate Hudson is brilliant in her part as the hooker set to retire from her proceeds from the area and Bruce Willis turns in his usual high level cameo performance.

“Rock the Kasbah” is not a laugh riot, it is more a black comedy than a straight up chuckle fest  that features a solid turn by Murray and a capable supporting cast. (It has more than a little in common with the 2008 John Cusack film “War Inc.” which was also deemed a flop and hammered by critics.)

A 3.5 out of 5 stars for a film that entertains and proves to be oddly watchable.  It is streaming on Netflix at the moment and at one hour and 46 minutes this R rated feature is worth a look.  It is, after all,  helmed by  the Oscar winning Levinson who has a splendid track record.