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December 9, 2008 9:42 PM   Subscribe

Ishtar (The Web Site) - Un/official site for the Elaine May film that everyone but me (and presumably the person who made this web site) hates. The site is missing a petition to get the film released on Blu-Ray but does have the songs converted to mp3.
posted by Manhasset (35 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I went to see this film by myself - and I was the only person in the entire theatre who was laughing. Laughing his ass off. Not just for the jokes, but for the film itself. Just a ridiculous and wonderful film. One of my closet favorites.
posted by bradth27 at 9:46 PM on December 9, 2008


My old roommate loved this movie as well. I get, conceptually, how it can be appealing. But, it is just terrible.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:50 PM on December 9, 2008


I went to see this film in the theaters as well, and there were only a handful of people in the theater. The strange thing is, I have almost no memory of the film at all. I seem to recall a scene where they're riding on a camel? Maybe? So many people hate this film, and yet I have no feelings about it. I don't think I fell asleep or anything, it just somehow made no impression on me.

Not that I intend to watch it again to see what I would think now, mind you.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:50 PM on December 9, 2008


I saw the film in the theatre at a sneak preview and people were howling with laughter. A few days later reviews came out--mostly bad--and the film tanked. It's definitely a favorite of mine. I've probably seen it 20 times and pretty much have it memorized.
posted by Manhasset at 9:59 PM on December 9, 2008


I think you nailed it, Discoursemaker. All I ever knew about the movie was that it was grossly expensive to make, and wasn't worth it. The trailer I watched from the linked site pretty much confirmed both those points for me.

"Oh, it was a musical? I never knew that".

"Gee, none of these songs are any good".

"Hmmm, and none of the jokes are either".

"But, man; that's Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty on location in the desert, with a cast of if not thousands, at least hundreds, and they're riding a camel. I bet that cost a bundle".
posted by yhbc at 9:59 PM on December 9, 2008


This is dangerous business.
posted by mazola at 10:02 PM on December 9, 2008


Gee, none of these songs are any good

They're not supposed to be. They're songwriters, not good songwriters.
posted by Manhasset at 10:04 PM on December 9, 2008


I remember this movie being soundly panned as The Worst Movie Ever Made. Well, a lot more crap has been squeezed out of Hollywood, apparently, because Ishtar doesn't even make the bottom 100 on IMDb. According to them, the worst movie ever made was Identity Crisis.
On the night of a big fashion show, world-famous French designer Yves Malmaison is poisoned. The same night, the very same people are trying to kill Chilly D, a member of the popular rap group The Funky Four. As Fancy dies on the street, a midget witch (whom he did a favor to by handing her a beer earlier in the night) tries to do something to save him. The next day, as the body of Yves Malmaison is buried, his soul wakes up to find himself in Chilly D's body. Both souls are trapped inside the same body, and every time they are struck or hit, their personality changes between a tough black rapper and a fruity fashion designer.
I know it's hard to believe that a homophobic wincer starring Mario Van Peebles managed to edge out a musical with Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty, but the numbers don't lie.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:19 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank you so much for posting this. Was reading a book today on 'Iconic Hollywood Flops', and of course Ishtar is highlighted - but like everyone else the author fails to take into account that this film is funny.

I mean - Wardrobe of Love. C'mon!
posted by jettloe at 10:37 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The best part of the site is the actors and director talking about what it was like to be associated with a movie with such a bad reputation. Hoffman's take is particularly interesting (though I dont know if it's true):

"And that was the first time, I think, the cost of a film ever got to the public. It was around the time that the public suddenly was aware of how much films cost, how much they made on a weekend."
posted by meech at 11:01 PM on December 9, 2008


I saw it in the theater, and I remember laughing out loud, while realizing it was just silly. I never got "I'm leaving you some love in my will" (?) totally out of my brain. I should probably watch it again.

But whatver... Elaine May has my undying devotion for A New Leaf.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:10 PM on December 9, 2008


Being that there was a suicidal cult called "Heaven's Gate", I'm worried that I will wake up one day and read about a stand off between a SWAT team and the "Ishtar" cult, ensconced in a heavily fortified compound.
posted by Tube at 11:12 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If they spent a penny over $100 million on that website I unequivocally hate it.
posted by mazola at 11:29 PM on December 9, 2008


Interestingly, $30m in 1986 would be around $60m in today's dollars. Norbit cost more than that, and caused considerably less outrage. How our standards have changed.

Thanks for pointing out that this one could be worth watching someday.
posted by col_pogo at 11:37 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blu-Ray? As far as I know, Ishtar's never even had a Region 1 DVD release!

(More tragically, neither has A New Leaf -- Amazon has VHS tapes starting at $30!)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 11:42 PM on December 9, 2008


"Fishtar"
posted by bardic at 11:58 PM on December 9, 2008


Siskel and Ebert review Ishtar.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:49 AM on December 10, 2008


Skeptical of bad it could actually be, I rented Ishtar shortly after it came out on VHS. It was bad. Not entertaining bad, just bad. I speak as someone who enloyed Skidoo for the weird train wreck that it is.

Bad drama can be entertaining. Bad comedy, rarely.
posted by pmurray63 at 4:56 AM on December 10, 2008


There are two words from this film that bring back fond memories of my wife and I laughing until we were out of breath.

Blind Camel
posted by thanotopsis at 5:08 AM on December 10, 2008


Whether Ishtar sucks or not is almost beside the point... the website itself is a really well-done tribute: it looks nice, it's not pretentious, and it has that personal retro-web feel, all of which speak to the site-owner's plain 'ol love for this movie. It almost makes me want to see it.

Almost.
posted by not_on_display at 5:14 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's nice to see Ishtar get some love, since I think the movie has actually gotten better over the years. And not for hipster contrarian reasons (ie "I'll love this movie BECAUSE it got such bad reviews). It genuinely makes me laugh and it's a solid, fun, ridiculous movie. Plus you get some solid Charles Grodin.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:58 AM on December 10, 2008


Previously?
Self-link?

It's really an amazing movie considering that it is in fact supposed to be over-the-top and aburdly self-referential, but then did its job too well and drove most people into insanity.

The issue with this movie wasn't really the cost, but the waste. My favorite story I've heard about it was that May didn't like the way the sand looked in the actual desert they flew to Africa to film in, so she had a team of dudes out raking the sand with rakes before every take to make it look more like a desert.

I couldn't find any attribution for this story just now though so maybe it's an urban legend?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:30 AM on December 10, 2008


I thought Ishtar was fine. A large number of "bad" films really aren't that bad so long as you don't walk into the theater expecting Oscar gold.
posted by Atreides at 7:03 AM on December 10, 2008


Another guy here who is baffled by the hatred for the movie. It was kind of a mess and not especially entertaining -- this was surpising, given the creative team behind it and onscreen -- but it wasn't even the worst movie I saw that year, let alone of all time.

My god, it came out in 1987, when Three Men and a Baby was the biggest box office draw of the year. Let's have some perspective here.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:04 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks to the FPP a few posts down, here's the Ishtar article from the March 1987 issue of New York magazine.
posted by Manhasset at 7:39 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ishtar on My Year of Flops.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:24 AM on December 10, 2008


My parents warned me that this movie was going to be terrible when I was in my teens and was considering renting it. I took this as an endorsement and went ahead with it. I listen to my parents more now. So, uh, thanks Ishtar.

It wasn't even bad enough to be good.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2008


Ishtar vs Beverly Hills Cop II [NYT, 1987].
posted by mandal at 12:37 PM on December 10, 2008


ricochet biscuit: Oh God, Three Men and a Baby is real? I'd never heard of it, so when I heard Patton Oswalt refer to it in a bit I assumed it was a made-up stereotypically lame movie premise.

Then again, mainstream film has been past the stage of self-parody for many decades now.
posted by abcde at 4:38 PM on December 10, 2008


Never seen the film, but now I kinda want to. My only real association with it is a Far Side cartoon about Hell's video store (stocked exclusively with Ishtar). According to Wikipedia, Larson actually feels bad about that, as he hadn't seen the film when he drew it and enjoyed it when he finally did.
posted by brundlefly at 5:32 PM on December 10, 2008



ricochet biscuit: Oh God, Three Men and a Baby is real? I'd never heard of it, so when I heard Patton Oswalt refer to it in a bit I assumed it was a made-up stereotypically lame movie premise.


abcde: Behold! This is what happens when you take a passably funny French farce and recast it with the three-headed powerhouse that is Guttenberg, Danson and Selleck, helmed by Leonard Nimoy in his first post-Star-Trek directorial job. It is zany! It is wacky! It was the #1 film at the box office for four of its first six weeks of release!

It also led to a sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady, and apparently an upcoming third installment, Three Men and a Bride, which does not sound at all like a porn film title.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:30 PM on December 10, 2008


Larson actually feels bad about that, as he hadn't seen the film when he drew it and enjoyed it when he finally did.

He says he has many cartoons he'd like to apologize for but only one he actually did apologize for: his Ishtar one.
posted by Manhasset at 7:54 PM on December 10, 2008


ricochet biscuit: Oh God, Three Men and a Baby is real? I'd never heard of it, so when I heard Patton Oswalt refer to it in a bit I assumed it was a made-up stereotypically lame movie premise.

I had this same reaction on finding out that Wolf Blitzer was a real person. I first heard the name in a Dilbert cartoon, and thought it was a satire of anchorman names like Storm Phillips. A few years later, I finally got cable TV, turned on CNN...and, wow. Wolf Blitzer. Who'd have guessed?
posted by not that girl at 8:48 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


From America, the Book, in its list of formulas for newspeople names:
Construction material + breed of horse = Anchorman Name.

Examples: Brick Shetland, Chip Clydesdale, Stone Winchester, Wood Lippizaner.posted by abcde at 10:28 PM on December 10, 2008


Plus you get some solid Charles Grodin.

I thought Grodin was the best thing about Ishtar, IIRC.
posted by pmurray63 at 4:50 AM on December 11, 2008


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