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on January 12, 2001
Ishtar is the most wrongfully maligned movie of all time. Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman are hilarious in this buddy farce about the fantastic misadventures of two passionate, sincere songwriters who can niether sing nor write, but who truly think they're great, think they're Simon and Garfunkel. The deluded duo can't get a gig anywhere but Morocco, where they become entangled in a revolutionary espionage and ride around the desert on a blind camel. Ishtar was the movie which made me decide to like Warren Beatty. He and Hoffman have dynamic charisma together, each playing their characters with endearing sincerity, which adds to the hilarity. Every scene crackles with memorable dialogue and slapstick gags. One of my personal favorite lines comes when Hoffman is threatening to kill himself because he has nothing. Beatty tells him that that's what's great about him. "You're the kind of guy who'd rather have nothing than settle for less." Ishtar was a financial failure because it went way over budget and was poorly marketed. It was doomed to "bomb" before it ever came out. But what does that matter to us, now? The fact is that this classic comedy is in league with all of your favorites, and you're only depriving yourself of a lot of good belly laughs if you don't give Ishtar a look.
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on December 19, 2005
Too often, people jump on the bandwagon and say a movie sucks...when they haven't even seen it. I truly suspect that was the case with this, one of my all time favorite movies. When it comes up in conversation, and people moan or say "that was awful," I ask, "Did you actually see it?" And often the answer is "No, but I heard..." Please. This is a brilliant, hilarious movie. It was also one of the first comedies ever to have such a large budget and it came along at a time when the media was first even talking a lot about how big a budget was, in reference to movies. I've always been mystified as to why this movie was so reviled when it's endearing and oh so funny. Not being a particular fan of either Beatty or Hoffman, you just have to give them big mad props for the incredible portrayals in this movie. PLEASE, we need a DVD release for U.S. players...with the goodies and the long, lost musical video included! I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Elaine May a few years after Ishtar came out and she seemed to still be besieged by the naysayers. What a shame...what a bewildering shame. The funniest thing about this movie are the song lyrics and their deadpan, oh-so-serious delivery:

Telling the truth can be dangerous business

honest and popular don't go hand and hand

If you admit you can play the accordian,

no one will hire you for a rock and roll band...

and we'll sing our hearts out...

Indeed. A wonderful movie
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on January 21, 1999
Ok, so MOST of my friends either refuse to watch the video with me or fall asleep ten minutes into it. A very few of my friends agree that this movie is so far beyond bad that it's terrific. I've seen Ishtar more times than I can remember, and every time I laugh. If you're a little quirky, and if you're willing to take the movie as a song and character showcase (forget the plot!), then you may have found a new favorite movie to torture your loved ones with.
I'm not kidding.
Imagine if you will Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty singing (badly) these super lines:
"I said come look there's a wardrobe of love in my eyes/ Come on in, take a look and see if there's something your size."
"Telling the truth is a dangerous business/ Honest and popular don't go hand in hand./ If you admit that you can play the accordion/ No one will hire you in a rock-n-roll band."
You live your life and I'll live mine, and mine will always include a copy of Ishtar.
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on October 19, 2005
Ishtar is a very funny, underated film. This film should be released on DVD in NTSC format as soon as possible with lots of extras. I would love to see the music video that was never released, as well as have the soundtrack available separately. Hopefully Elaine May, Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman will do commentary. Please release it in NTSC format soon.
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on August 15, 2002
The reviews here speak for themselves. Just compare the number of absolute raves to pans. It's like 30-1. Easily one of the funniest movies of all time, which is all the more amazing due to the fact that there is no toilet humor. It takes a hell of an actor to play a total loser with the believability that Beatty and Hoffman did. It's obvious they had a lot of fun flexing their acting muscles here. Filled with more classic sequances than I can name (see other reviews) I had to add my 2 cents here because I am a hard core movie fan, and all it takes to enjoy a movie like this is to watch it with no expectations. I've seen it hundreds of times and still laugh out loud. I think it's a matter of either "getting it" or not. I get it. Plenty of other do, too. Plot? Who cares! In this case, the plot is simply a vehicle to get Beatty and Hoffman into the next absurdly comic situation. Works fine. One of my top ten favorites. You try writing songs as horrible and laughable as the ones here. Not easy!
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on October 12, 2005
Writers of all kinds -- writers of poems, songs, novels, plays, bumper stickers -- and any performer who's ever tried to move an audience and failed, will recognize the nightmare we all share: what if I'm really, really bad at what I do, and I don't realize it?

The plot is just silly enough, and watching Beatty and Hoffman deliver their lines in all seriousness, is priceless. The songs crack me up even after a dozen viewings.

One of the funniest movies of all time.

My VHS is wearing out. Please, please, where's the DVD?
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on September 8, 2002
We have the uncanny ability to tell whether we'll like a movie by the clips the stars drag around with them on publicity tours. We have never been wrong so when "Ishtar" was making the rounds we got scared. Neither of us were huge Dustin Hoffman fans and we didn't like Warren Beatty at all.And yet, there we were guffawing at the pair of them each time we saw the clips. Well, we cautiously waited until the video came out and rented it. We were nervous. Had our powers left us? Within 5 minutes we were guffawing out loud and from then on we laughed til we hurt. When the movie was over, we just sat there, sore and out of breath 'til one of us would quote a line or mention a situation and we'd be in hysterics again. This has the same magic as a Jerry Seinfeld show in that you can't exactly explain why you love it but you know you'll love it 'til you die. So, Dustin, Warren, Elaine and Charles (Charles Grodin is always an asset in a movie) thank you for taking the chances you took to make "Ishtar"and we're truly sorry the unknowing criticals gave you such a bashing. As for the rest of you, buy this movie and we promise you won't be sorry.
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on October 21, 2004
I don't care what anyone says - Ishtar is a hilarious movie! Hoffman and Beatty were a great team in this one. I loved how each of them played against their normal types.

The songs are hysterical and they never cease to make me laugh.

This movie should have been a really big hit. I think if it had been called anything but Ishtar it would have done better at the box office.

If you haven't seen it, ignore the bad things you've heard about it and give it a try. You'll probably get a big kick out of it!
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There is a line in "Ishtar" that neatly sums up the film, both in terms of what ended up on the screen and the behind the scenes story of this legendary bomb: "I got a feeling something went wrong and now I own a blind camel." The line is spoken by Lyle Roger (Warren Beatty) who ends up in a situation where that line makes sense with his partner Chuck Clarke (Dustin Hoffman). Lyle and Chuck are arguably the world's worst lounge singers, and they end up involved in Morocco doing government spy work. But I am not here to convince you to watch "Ishtar" because of the plot, or the performance of the two leading men. You have to check this out for the songs. These songs, mostly written by writer-director Elaine May and Paul Williams, are so bad, so draw-droppingly bad, that you have to sit through this movie at least once in your life. Here are some sample lyrics:
Telling the truth can be dangerous business;
Honest and popular don't go hand in hand.
If you admit that you play the accordion,
No one will hire you in a rock 'n' roll band.
But we can sing out hearts out.
And if we're lucky, then no neighbors complain.
Because life is the way we audition for God;
Let us pray that we all get the job.
Every time Beatty and Hoffman struggle through singing their songs, or even better, trying to compose their songs, finding the proper inane lyric to match the insipid music, you have to laugh, chuckle, or at least wince in pain. So make at effort to catch this film when you have nothing better to do and then get on with your life.
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on December 12, 2002
The credits say that the soundtrack's available, but when I called the company about buying it, the other end of the line seemed to go dead! Perhaps they thought i was calling to see if their refrigerator was running or if they had Prince Albert in a can.
I've heard a rumour that Hoffman personally bought all the copies of the CD and destroyed them. If so, it's a pity because this movie changed my life for the better. The hype surrounding its release was remarkable. Who remembers the two stars being interviewed in 120mm celluloid for "Today".
A must for any comedy collection.
The critics hated it? Who listens to them anyhoo?
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