New York Times - 05/15/1987
"...A likable, good-humored hybrid....[Hoffman and Beatty] make a good team..."
Los Angeles Times - 05/15/1987
"...It is a smart, generous, genuinely funny affair..."
Film Comment - 01/01/2011
"[In] this hilarious offshoot of the Hope-Crosby Road pictures, Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty are a pair of abjectly talentless singer-songwriters whose vaunted perspectives of themselves give the movie its humor..."
Two down-and-out singer/songwriters (played by Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty) who dream of becoming the next Simon and Garfunkel find themselves hitting the bottom of the barrel after their women leave them and their careers never get off the ground. Out of money, and with no prospects of work in New York, they grudgingly agree to accept a gig in Morocco. Before they even leave the airport in Morocco, they are suddenly ensnared into the revolution brewing in the country, and unwittingly get sucked into Middle Eastern political turmoil beyond their wildest dreams. Before their Moroccan adventure is over, Chuck and Lyle question their trust, their loyalty, and their sanity--but never their talent. A would-be road picture a la Hope and Crosby, the film is worth seeing for Hoffman's and Beatty's dry portrayals of down-on-their-luck ne'er-do-wells, and their earnest, off-key renditions of the film's original songs. Additionally, the film was beset by production and budget challenges that are now the stuff of publicity legend.
This slapstick spy parody features Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty as dreadfully bad aspiring songwriters. Their agent believes they should go far--far away, that is. Finally booking a gig in Morocco, they find themselves caught in a crossfire between a beautiful left-wing Shiite rebel, the CIA, and the emir's regime. As expected, hijinks ensue in this desert caper movie.
ISHTAR is loosely inspired by the musical road movies that featured partners Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.
Stars Beatty and Hoffman do most of their own singing in the film.
The film had a very long shooting schedule, lasting about seven months in late 1985 and early (to mid) 1986. The crew traversed several different parts of the globe, from Morocco to the Sahara Desert to Los Angeles to the Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York City. The estimated budget was $50 million, a high figure for movie budgets at the time.
The film was universally panned by the press, who had tracked its arduous, lengthy, and expensive production process to the screen.