This is pretty dire. It doesn't seem to be sure what it's trying to achieve. Hoffman & Beatty a very odd pairing. One or two amusing moments and only Isabelle Adjani manages to brighten up the screen. Ropey script, dodgy 'jokes', stumbling plot. Elaine May is far funnier than this effort.
Not a patch on A New Leaf, which has to be one of the funniest films ever made, but this is a perfectly watchable and occasionally inspired knockabout comedy, although it does depend on your tolerance for 80s zaniness being pretty high. Reminded me a bit of Tropic Thunder, both in its plot and the fact that the jokes sometimes get a little lost among the big-budget spectacle.
Remarkably fresh. The on-screen energy of the leads makes them very appealing. There are few so-bad-they're-good comedy routines I like. (eg French & Saunders or Flight of the Conchords.) These songs/performances are !! Some great lines and situations, & the camel is magnificent. Way up there with Pink Panther. Hard to give a movie this silly 4 stars but it is so much better than its reputation. Not non-PC enough.
I just about remember the atrocious reviews for this film on its release. When considering just how many cinematic atrocities were released in the 80s, it's likely misogyny was behind the especially ferocious attacks on this funny and warm hearted film. Watch 'A New Leaf' to see how tragic it is that May's career was all but ended based on this minor misstep.
I won't pretend this flick doesn't have pitfalls but it has enough genuine humor to be well worth watching more then once. While the film is trying to be a political-satire, it's at its weakest when it tries to be subversive; the best parts are the Bing/Hope-ish banter between the leads.
Apparently this has been a flop, I really don't get why - this is probably the most beautifully weird mid-life-crisis-movie I've ever seen: two pals, both wonderfully played stumble through marocco ( consisting of cities and cars, not deserts and sheepherds), their ignorance and naivity confronted with the slingshot-lifestyle of the capitalist periphery - beats much cold-war stuff by length, just great entertainment
I saw this movie long after all the bad reviews, and I was confused. It's a perfectly fine movie. I don't care about the budget. I don't care who is an egomaniac. I just hope future generations can see it in a less hostile environment. Hollywood is run by 4 year olds.
While nowhere near as great as May's The Heartbreak Kid or Mikey and Nicky, this film is hilarious and more brilliantly satirical than Dr. Strangelove, If May simply stopped directing due to personal reasons, more power to her. If this underrated film killed her career behind the camera, shame on Hollywood, as usual.
I'm baffled when Ishtar's failure is blamed on the script, structure or weak gags when it strikes me as a comedic masterpiece, very funny movie! It prefigures the brilliant political satire of Starship Troopers and the awkward social and body humor of something like Arrested Development! - maybe that's what made people so uneasy in 1987...
Other than how much it cost and bias against movie star egos involved, the only other theory I got as to why people didn't dig it back than is American's weren't ready for "cringe comedy' played straight until 2000s TV comedies made it more accepted. It's not perfect or May's best film but it's got a lot good things going for it.