Waiting for Ishtar (2017)

A conversation about guilty pleasures turns into one man's quest to find others on a library waiting list, while simultaneously examining the fate of the famous Hollywood bomb Ishtar (1987).




Credited cast:
John Mitchell John Mitchell ... Self
Jonathan Crombie ... Self
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George Anthony ... Self
Andy Barrie Andy Barrie ... Self
Peter Biskind ... Self
David Blum David Blum ... Self
Richard Crouse Richard Crouse ... Self
Charles Grodin ... Self
J. Hoberman J. Hoberman ... Self
Carol Kane ... Self
Lisa Lambert Lisa Lambert ... Self
Jef Leeson Jef Leeson ... Self
Matt Love Matt Love ... Self
Don McKellar ... Self
Donald Mitchell Donald Mitchell ... Self


In 2006, writer/director John Mitchell had a conversation with friends about guilty pleasures, when he confessed to loving the Elaine May comedy, "Ishtar", starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, Mitchell was accused of "mocking the conversation". None of the others had seen "Ishtar", and it occurred to Mitchell that perhaps what most people thought they knew about the film came from negative media reaction at the time. Soon after, Mitchell tried to borrow "Ishtar" from his local library, only to discover he was #34 on a waiting list of 47 people lining up for the library's single VHS copy. Realizing it could take eight and a half months to get the film, Mitchell wondered who else would be willing to wait that long, or longer, for the famous flop. With the help of a friend and a borrowed handycam, Mitchell set off on a quest to track down and interview one of the others, Waiting For Ishtar. Written by John Mitchell

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User Reviews

A so-so documentary about a bad movie
7 July 2018 | by EclecticEnnuiSee all my reviews

"Ishtar" is a comedic adventure film starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. It came out in '87 and it notoriously bombed at the box office. I'm not sure if many people have seen it or have even heard of it. I don't think I saw it until last year, which just so happened to be the film's 30th anniversary. I'm definitely not a fan of it. There are a few funny moments, but it's mostly unfunny and dull. However, I wouldn't call it one of the worst films I've ever seen. Plus, one person's trash is another person's treasure.

The star of this documentary is a man who loves "Ishtar". He wants to borrow the sole copy of the film from the Toronto Public Library, but he's on a long waiting list and he wants to meet other people on the list. Yes, that's partly what this documentary is about. Maybe I'm biased because I don't like "Ishtar", but so what? You have to wait because there's just one copy and others want to borrow it... so what? I didn't really care because this documentary didn't give me much of a reason to care. We don't even get much of a reason as to why this guy likes it so much. After watching this documentary, I don't feel like giving "Ishtar" another chance by watching it again. There are plenty of other movies I can watch.

This documentary is just... meh. The clips of "Ishtar" that are shown actually look better than the documentary footage that's shown, which, for the most part, looks OK. There are interviews with people like actor/filmmaker Don McKellar and actress Carol Kane, who's in "Ishtar". The interviews are fine, although the footage of Kane looks somewhat out of focus, for some reason. Like "Ishtar", this documentary does have some funny moments. When someone off-screen says the film was apparently the most expensive comedy at the time, a man on-screen says, "It's considered a comedy?" I dunno, I think that's funny.

Maybe if you're a fan of "Ishtar", you'll like "Waiting for Ishtar" more than I did. It's decently made, but I just found it to be a bit boring and not *that* insightful. It has its moments, though, and at least it's fairly short. I kinda wish "Ishtar" was as short as this or even shorter. I probably would've enjoyed it a lot more.

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2017 (Canada) See more »

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada See more »

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