FBMR - Ishtar
Film-Buff Movie Reviews


ISHTAR (1987) *1/2

There's one major problem with this comedy starring Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty...it just isn't funny. There were a couple of moments where I chuckled a little bit, but that's the extent of it. I got the impression that writer/director Elaine May didn't know whether this movie should be a comedy or a spy flick.

I remember when this movie was being hyped and how it was plague with production problems and went over budget, but it was still supposed to be good. Who knew that two huge stars like Hoffman and Beatty could be involved in something so awful?

Beatty and Hoffman play a couple of dumbling aspiring songwriters but also resort to performing as well in order to give their songs some exposure. Both their performances and writing are painful to watch and listen to, respectively. These songs were purposefully written badly for the film by Paul Williams, so I chuckled a bit at how terrible the lyrics and melodies were. Broke and desperate, they agree to perform their "act" at a diner club in Morocco. Somehow they get involved in a local crisis between the Emir of Ishtar, rebels, and the CIA. The whole premise is ridiculous. The best part of the film involves a scene-stealing camel.

From a musician's point-of-view, it was interesting to see how bad music and really be, and inspirational to never write lyrics comparing love to a lawnmower.

IMDb - Ishtar