Ishtar (1987)

Yeah, the words “ish” and “tar” are two great words combined to describe this movie.

When their goldbrick agent books a gig in — of all places — the Middle East, foundering American lounge singers Chuck (Dustin Hoffman) and Lyle (Warren Beatty) surprisingly garner success — and get ensnared in a secret mission with a CIA agent (Charles Grodin) and local rebel leader (Isabelle Adjani). And just when they think they’ve outfoxed the bad guys, they end up roaming the desert with their survival in question.

So basically this film stars two great stars, who all have Oscar quality, and a great female director in Elaine May. So how could this all be such a mess?

The one problem with this film is that it doesn’t understand that its one joke that it plays through the whole movie, isn’t funny!! Now take it for granted that its not as terrible for the first 30 minutes, and actually some jokes do work, but they go on too long. Beatty and Hoffman can’t sing at all, they know it, the film knows it, the audience knows it, hell, everyone knows it! And even by the third act, they are still singing, even though their deserted.

Now the part that really doesn’t work at all, is when the film dives into a political thriller esque film. This part really threw me off, cause none of it was ever exciting, and barely none of it brought out any good themes about politics. Basically by the time their in the desert nothing is happening, other stupid camel jokes, and dumb subplots. It is all too much of a bore.

Hoffman and Beatty, gob bless their souls, who try so hard to actually bring some laughs out, but fail and fail miserably. I think they were miscast here and although they try, they don’t have any singing ability and don’t have enough good improv to make these scenes where its just them to, any better.

Consensus: Ishtar is a bore-fest, that starts out promising, but ends into a just completely jumbled, poorly-acted, and unfunny mess of a film, if you want to call it that.



  1. Only a person without a sense of humor or any understanding of what this movie is about could give it a negative rating. Ishtar is one of the wittiest, smartest, political satires ever. It’s hysterical and Hoffman and Beatty are a fantastic comical duo. Is it a flawless movie? No, but then, which movie is? Ishtar is grossly misjudged and taken totally out of context by most of those who give it a thumbs down.
    I’m personally glad that more and more people rediscover this gem and see it for what it is: great fun.

    • I’m sorry, but it just wasn’t too much fun for me. But, I have seen this film actually get a lot of positive attention lately, but just not from me sorry.

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