Watch Ishtar

"Telling the truth can be dangerous business."
  • PG-13
  • 1987
  • 1 hr 47 min
  • 4.6  (11,822)
  • 52

Ishtar is a 1987 comedy film directed and written by Elaine May. The film features the famous duo of Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, alongside French actress Isabelle Adjani in the lead roles. The film follows the disastrous attempts of two mediocre lounge singer-songwriters, Lyle Rogers (Beatty) and Chuck Clarke (Hoffman) as they travel to Morocco and end up embroiled in a revolutionary plot. The pair soon find themselves completely out of their depth and in way over their heads.

Right from the beginning, it is clear that these two unremarkable musicians have ambitions far beyond their talents. They dream of becoming the next Simon and Garfunkel but despite their best efforts, their music just isn't very good. They finally get a break when they are hired to perform at a hotel in Morocco, but things quickly go awry.

Their first song, which introduces the film, sets the tone for the entire movie as the duo launches into an absurdly bad and comically mangled rendition of a song called "Dangerous Business." The song is dreadful, and the off-key singing, mismatched harmonies, and clunky lyricism only serve to emphasize just how untalented these two really are.

As the story unfolds, the two men get caught up in an intricate web of political intrigue, with various factions vying for their help in a plot to overthrow a tyrannical regime. They meet the stunningly beautiful revolutionary leader named Shirra (Adjani), who seduces both of them into taking up arms against the government. The resulting predicament creates an impossible conundrum of adventure that leaves the two men constantly struggling to survive.

The humor of the film, though relatively subtle and sometimes ironic, is quite clever in its construction. The comedy is driven by both the cluelessness and the sheer idiocy of the main characters. Lyle and Chuck seem to have no idea what they are doing or why they are doing it. Whether they are attempting to write their next hit song or trying to carry out an important mission, the two are often in over their heads.

A significant part of the film's humor comes from the interactions between Beatty and Hoffman, who have an infectious chemistry together. Beatty plays the cynical one, while Hoffman plays the more idealistic, slightly bumbling persona, and both actors do an outstanding job of bringing their respective characters to life.

The character of Shirra is also a standout aspect of the film. Adjani delivers an enigmatic and stunning performance that takes center stage at several key moments throughout the film. She is both dangerous and seductive, a force to be reckoned with, and a mystery that Lyle and Chuck cannot resist. The dynamic of the trio is tense, humorous, and engaging.

One of the most impressive aspects of Ishtar is its cinematography, which perfectly captures the dueling moods of adventure and comedy that exist throughout the film. Filmed on location in Morocco and New York City, the stunning cinematography provides an immersive backdrop for the two protagonists’ misadventures.

Despite its impressive cast of actors, clever writing, and stylish visuals, Ishtar was a box office failure upon its release in 1987. It was widely panned by critics and audiences alike, and its negative reception went on to make the film a notorious flop.

However, many film critics and cinephiles have since revisited the film and praised it for its humor, its creative narrative, and its impressive performances. The film has become somewhat of a cult classic, and its cult status continues to grow.

In conclusion, Ishtar is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek comedy filled with dry humor, irony, and wit. It's cleverly written, and the performances of its lead cast are outstanding. Though initially received poorly, it's a film that deserves a second chance and has grown to be loved by many who appreciate its twisted sense of humor.

Ishtar is a 1987 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 47 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.6 and a MetaScore of 52.

Where to Watch Ishtar
Ishtar is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Ishtar for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 47 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    4.6  (11,822)
  • Metascore