Ishtar (1987)

PG-13  |   |  Action, Adventure, Comedy  |  15 May 1987 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 4.1/10 from 8,457 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 125 user | 47 critic | 16 from

Two terrible lounge singers get booked to play a gig in a Moroccan hotel but somehow become pawns in an international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime.



Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

A New Leaf (1971)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Henry Graham is a man with a problem: he has run through his entire inheritance, and is completely unequipped to provide for himself. His childhood guardian, Uncle Harry (a deliciously ... See full summary »

Director: Elaine May
Stars: Walter Matthau, Elaine May, Jack Weston
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Three days into his Miami honeymoon, New York Jewish Lenny meets tall, blonde Kelly. This confirms him in his opinion that he has made a serious mistake and he decides he wants Kelly ... See full summary »

Director: Elaine May
Stars: Charles Grodin, Cybill Shepherd, Jeannie Berlin
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Nick is desperate, holed up in a cheap hotel, suffering from an ulcer and convinced that a local mobster wants him killed. He calls Mikey, his friend since childhood, but when Mikey arrives... See full summary »

Director: Elaine May
Stars: Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, Ned Beatty
Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an overanxious angel before he was meant to die, returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire.

Directors: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry
Stars: Warren Beatty, James Mason, Julie Christie
Bulworth (1998)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A suicidally disillusioned liberal politician puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by affecting the rhythms and speech of hip-hop music and culture.

Director: Warren Beatty
Stars: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Kimberly Deauna Adams
Shampoo (1975)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Lovers undo a hairdresser from Beverly Hills around Election Eve in 1968.

Director: Hal Ashby
Stars: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn
Reds (1981)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A radical American journalist becomes involved with the Communist revolution in Russia and hopes to bring its spirit and idealism to the United States.

Director: Warren Beatty
Stars: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Edward Herrmann
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A man joins the political campaign of a smooth-operator candidate for president of the USA.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Kathy Bates
Sweet Liberty (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Michael has written a schollarly book on the revolutionary war. He has sold the film rights. The arrival of the film crew seriously disrupts him as actors want to change their characters, ... See full summary »

Director: Alan Alda
Stars: Alan Alda, Michael Caine, Michelle Pfeiffer
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An ambitious reporter gets in way-over-his-head trouble while investigating a senator's assassination which leads to a vast conspiracy involving a multinational corporation behind every event in the worlds headlines.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels
The Maze (1953)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A Scotsman abruptly breaks off his engagement to pretty Kitty and moves to his uncle's castle in the Scottish highlands. Kitty and her aunt follow Gerald a few weeks later, and discover he ... See full summary »

Director: William Cameron Menzies
Stars: Richard Carlson, Veronica Hurst, Katherine Emery
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Bachelor Harry Quincey, head designer in a small-town cloth factory, lives with his selfish sisters, glamorous hypochondriac Lettie and querulous widow Hester. His developing relationship ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: George Sanders, Ella Raines, Geraldine Fitzgerald


Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Harrison
Marty Freed
Emir Yousef
Fijad Hageb ...
Abdul (as Fuad Hageb)
Mr. Clarke
Rose Arrick ...
Julie Garfield ...
Siri Darma (as Christine Rose)
Robert V. Girolami ...
Bartender (as Bob Girolami)
Abe Kroll ...
Mr. Thomopoulos


Two terrible lounge singers get booked to play a gig in a Moroccan hotel but somehow become pawns in an international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime. Written by Stern

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

emir | cia | map | morocco | hotel | See All (100) »


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 May 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Иштар  »

Box Office


$51,000,000 (estimated)


$14,375,181 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When a replacement part was needed for a camera, it was sent over to Morocco with a New York based location coordinator instead of just being shipped, out of fear it might get lost or held up at customs. The coordinator's airfare and a week's hotel stay were paid for by the production. See more »


AS the helicopter lowers to give the CIA agent a level shot at the duo, his wood stock, single shot, bolt action rifle turns into a black automatic weapon with a banana clip. See more »


CIA Agent: The KGB is here. I recognize two agents.
CIA Agent: The ones dressed as Texans?
CIA Agent: No. The ones dressed as Arabs. The ones dressed as Texans are Arab agents. I also recognize two guys from Turkish intelligence.
CIA Agent: Which ones? The ones in the Hawaiian shirts?
CIA Agent: No, the Bermuda shorts. The ones in the Hawaiian shirts are tourists.
See more »


Referenced in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997) See more »


You Took My Love
Lyrics by Elaine May
Music by The Swing
Performed by The Swing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Its bad rep is undeserved
7 February 2000 | by (Cincinnati, Ohio) – See all my reviews

For the most part, films that bomb badly usually deserve to, but Ishtar is a curious exception. For the life of me, I cannot understand the critical drubbing it took upon its initial release. Admittedly, it did go way over budget, and none of that opulence is visible on screen (the film has a murky and washed out look to it, and its sets and locales are not particularly impressive) but this is a comedy after all, and so lives or dies based on the quality of its jokes and situations, not its production design. And on that level Ishtar not only gets by but succeeds wonderfully.

Beatty and Hoffman play two dim bulbs who fancy themselves songwriters and pair up in an attempt to become the next Simon and Garfunkel. The tortured lyrics these guys come up with must be heard to be believed, and the scenes showing them working on their songs or presenting their act to audiences are some of the most screamingly funny ever committed to film. If for no other reason than to see these scenes, you should rent the movie.

Perhaps the film might have been funnier (and better accepted by critics) if it had focused exclusively on the show business dreams of its stars. However, early on the two get a booking to play an extended gig in Morocco (that alone should tell you how bad they are); they get waylaid in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Ishtar where they become inadvertently roped into a shady CIA dominated plot having something to do with rebellions, arm shipments and military coups. It's all rather hokey and confusing - but deliberately so, in the best screwball sense. And through it all Hoffman and Beatty truly shine: the bafflement on their faces and in their gestures as they are shepherded from place to place as dupes in a plot they don't understand is just priceless. Who would have thought that two such intelligent actors could play stupid so convincingly (either one of them, for example, would have made a preferable sidekick to Jim Carrey than Jeff Daniels was in Dumb and Dumber - his performance showed all the strain of a bright guy trying to force himself into a pose of ineptitude). Even more, who would have imagined that two such prima donnas could put their egos aside to work off each other so well and become a truly great comedy TEAM? No matter how crazy the plot may get, Hoffman and Beatty are never less than a delight as they hold down the center of the film.

Oh yeah, and if that weren't enough, there's also the treat of the wonderfully droll and deadpan Charles Grodin as the CIA operative in Ishtar. He's the villain of the piece, but his beautifully underplayed exasperation at the exploits of the two stars makes you like him almost as much as you do them.

So what are you waiting for? If you like a good, well done comedy with sharp performances and a kooky atmosphere, check out Ishtar today. Don't allow all those sourpuss, stone-faced critics to ruin your fun.

28 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
If you like Ishtar yakipoo
why dos everyone hate this movie noer86
Hands down one of the worst movies I've ever seen. So bad I walked out ShazzMatazz
Dustin Hoffman defends Ishtar on Talk of the Nation nnnn8
what does ishtar mean? soccerplayr28
Hell's video store madmoizelle
Discuss Ishtar (1987) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: