Ishtar was one of those passion projects with a horrible reputation in the press long before it was released in 1987. As is the case with most massive cinematic flops, it isn’t nearly as bad as you might imagine. Mostly, Ishtar just feels like a waste of time, both for the talent involved and anyone unfortunate enough to sit through it. The director’s cut has no major changes to vastly improve the blandness of the film, and somehow I can’t imagine many people are excited to see this homage to classic Bing Crosby road comedies released in high definition.
Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman are the only things keeping this surprisingly unfunny comedy afloat and even their performances get lost amidst a convoluted satire of Reagan-era international politics. The film works best when the jabs are directed at the entertainment industry instead, and the first act of Ishtar has the potential of being a Spinal Tap for lounge singers, but it quickly falls apart when the pair travels to the fictional country.
Beatty and Hoffman are Rogers and Clarke, two singer/songwriters with little talent and endless ambition. Upon the advice of their limited agent, the pair goes on a concert tour in the Middle Eastern
. Instead of
performing, the pair becomes mixed up with beautiful freedom fighter (Isabelle
Adjani) and ends up inadvertently taking on the CIA (led by Charles Grodin). republic
The scenery looks fine in high definition, but no amount of image and sound clarity can help make the jokes funny. The highlight of the film are the moments of intentionally bad song writing, and even that isn’t enough to demand either a director’s cut or a Blu-ray release.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Disc Features: 1/10