Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Honest and Popular don't Go Hand in Hand

I'm following the lead of the Annekenstein Monster and Sunsetgun... the only three true and loyal fans of unjustly vilified, hilarious and under-rated Ishtar.

For those of you who have forgotten, or may not have been born, Istar was released in 1987 and was one of the first "Big Budget" comedies. It starred Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, written and directed by the legendary Elaine May. There was a lot of comparisons at the time to the Crosby/Hope "Road to..." movies, which never made it particularly appealing to me as I was more of a Martin/Lewis kinda guy. And I remember hearing a lot of bad buzz at the time. Maybe my expectations were lowered making me open to the films many charms. I came out of the theatre with tears in my eyes, a changed man.

I don't remember the plot. Something about travelling to Ishtar I guess. But the plot was never the point. It was just a setting for amazing character set pieces that I can recite to this day: the restaurant scene, the "Smuck" scene, the "didn't need a pen" scene, the "Hawk" scene... Forget Martin/Lewis-- Hoffman/Beatty were the next generation Falk/Arkin for me. They taught me the lesson "the straighter it's played the funnier it is." I went back at least one more time to see it at the theatre and I believe that at least one friendship was cemented by a mutual love of the film.

For those of you who missed it, you might find it in the VHS section of the your local video store it still hasn't been released on DVD as far as I know. Thanks Sunsetgun for reminding me of it.


wcdixon said...

Yeah..I never got the hate on for Ishtar - actually went to it twice when it was released and laughed myself silly.

Icepac said...

you wrote: "...the only three true and loyal fans of unjustly vilified, hilarious and under-rated Ishtar."

How can you say that when there is 43 of us over at the I Love Ishtar Yahoo group? I mean, I guess we could have a kick matching bout to see who's the truer and loyaler fans, but you guys are really out-numbered. Instead, why don't we join forces, and make the world safe for Ishtar?

I think this is going to be a great year for Ishtar... the 20th anniversary will mark a big resurgence. There is a documentary film about Ishtar fandom in the works, the manager of the Ishtar fan website (http://www.ishtarthemovie.com/) is putting together a tribute CD featuring cover versions of songs from the movie, and possibly a US release on DVD (something the heathen in Europe have been enjoying for years). So shake off that square world, get with the countdown, and blast off to Ishtar!


Rob MacD said...

I think, too, Dave, the appeal of it to us, at the time, may have been that Hoffman and Beatty characters reminded us of ourselves. You, of course, were the Hawk, me the smuck.

Dave said...

as you know, rob, i got that name from my gang days.

Dave said...

and wow, icepac, i never knew! thanks for the link... i think rob and i will have to put a little demo together.