Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Forgotten Films: Ishtar

Okay, so my wife didn't even crack a smile during Spamalot. Does that mean she has no sense of humor? Au contraire. She thinks Ishtar is hilarious. She thought so the first time we saw it in the theater ( could it really have been nearly 25 years ago?), and she thinks so every time she sees it again. Yes, that's right. She's seen it more than once. More than twice. When it comes on TV, she's riveted.

And after all, why not? Look at the cast: Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Charles Grodin, Jack Weston, Carol Kane, Isabelle Adjani, Tess Harper. Not to mention the blind camel. What a line-up.

Yet Gary Larson did a Far Side cartoon captioned "Hell's Video Store," in which the entire store was stocked with copies of nothing but Ishtar. So who's wrong, Judy or Gary Larson?

If you've seen the movie, you know that Beatty and Hoffman are two really bad lounge singers. They're very good at being bad. I'm not sure they're even acting. Anyway, they're so bad the can get gigs only in places like Morocco, where they get involved in espionage by mistake. It's not like Hope and Crosby, but then it doesn't want to be. Maybe like some rough beast, its time has come round at last. Give it a look and see what you think.

14 comments:

Jerry House said...

I understand that all the principal actors were convinced that this was one of the funniest movies ever made. They probably remained so until they screened the movie.

Seepy Benton said...

I, too, have seen Ishtar several times and enjoy it more each time. What's a Spamalot???

Anonymous said...

I think...five minutes was more than enough.

Jackie has never seen it, but she is a devotee of another comedy I'd have never in my wildest dreams expected her to like: PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE.

Jeff

Bill Crider said...

Judy likes that one, too.

Juri said...

I've seen this, but can't remember much of it. It was over 20 years ago, and I didn't realize at the time everyone knew it was horrible and it had crashed the studio. Stuff that cults are made of, most surely.

Gerard said...

I saw ISHTAR once and liked it. I could not understand what the brouhahah was about.

I cannot separate the plot and setting from JEWEL OF THE NILE.

Todd Mason said...

Not too terribly far from JEWEL, no! I'm a fan of Elaine May, though her film work hasn't been up to the best of her stage comedy/standup-sketch work...but A NEW LEAF is a rather better film than this one, by me...but this one is Vastly better than such similar financial and/or artistic disasters as TOWN AND COUNTRY or WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM? (leave aside most of the latter-day work of Eddie Murphy)...where some of the same people inflated their paychecks and Really Broke Themselves Up much more ineptly.

Evan Lewis said...

I like Ishtar too. But Spamalot? That was like a religious experience!

David Cranmer said...

I watched it (as a young man) for Isabelle Adjani. Did I laugh? I don't remember.

Gerard said...

I, too, remember the boob flash scene, Cranmer.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Just a real goof fest for sure. And both of them were at the peak of their careers.

Anonymous said...

Todd is right; A NEW LEAF is one you should see. I have a friend who does a "crumb check" on his wife all the time.

Jeff

Jaume Fibla García-Barzanallana said...

I just want to say that... this is one of my favourite movies of all times. I swear. And for me, it's hilarius too. My name is Jaume, I have a music band with my brother, we are "The Xuscos" and we are from Barcelona, Spain. And the couple of musicians from the film, Hoffman and Beatty, are our heros. It have great moments, and laughs about the CIA and their conspirations with dictators. No wonder it was not a success. It's too good.

Bill Crider said...

Judy would agree with you.