First off, Ishtar: Directorís Cut has no special features whatsoever. Itís been so many years that I honestly canít tell what has been added to the Directorís Cut of the film and the Theatrical Version is not included, so I canít compare the two. Regardless, whatís there is funny and has been cleaned up nicely. This film is some 26 years old and the majority of it takes place in a dry desert. Despite this fact, you wonít see a lot of pixelization and haziness in the transfer. Now, onto the story itself.
Lyle Rogers (Warren Beatty) and Chuck Clark (Dustin Hoffman) desperately want to become songwriters, much to the chagrin of their significant others, Willa (Tess Harper) and Carol (Carol Kane). When the two meet one another, they become convinced they have what it takes to be the next Simon and Garfunkel, but they are so terrible that the only gig they can get is in Morocco in the village of Ishtar. With their ladies having left them, they may as well head to Morocco. Almost as soon as they come off the plane, the trouble starts. While Lyle is in the restroom, Chuck is approached by a mysterious woman named Shirra Assel (Isabelle Adjani) who convinces him to give her his passport and swap suitcases and jackets with her, because her life depends on it. While Chuck gives in, Lyle returns only to remind him that they must arrive in Ishtar for their gig by the next night or they will be fired. Lyle goes on ahead to save the gig, meanwhile Chuck is approached by another American, Jim Harrison (Charles Grodin), a CIA agent who enlists his help and asks him to listen out for anything interesting in exchange for a nice sum of money, which Chuck and Lyle could really use. When Chuck shows up just in time for the show, Lyle wonders how he made things happen so fast.
Soon, Chuckís mystery woman, Assel is sneaking into their room and is confronted by Lyle. As it turns out, both the CIA and a rebelís organization, of which Assel is a member, are trying to get their hands on a mysterious map that could shake the very foundations of the Middle East - guess who unwittingly has the map? Yup, Rogers and Clark. Never have the pair been so in demand, although one wrong move could easily cost them their lives. As they place their trust in people they shouldnít, they find themselves deeper and deeper in the proverbial quicksand. Can they sing their way out of this mess?
Itís been so long since Iíve seen this film that I really didnít remember too much about it other than the fact that it made me laugh. While it is not as hysterical as it once was and it is a good bit dated by the mention of certain now deceased Middle Eastern leaders, itís still quite funny and Hoffman and Beatty are just brilliant as they riff off one another. Just the fact that Beatty is a loser with the ladies and Chuck refers to himself as The Hawk from some previous gang-related activity is riotously funny, and Grodin is so dead-pan that he just nails every scene heís in.
If you have fond memories of this lost gem of the 80ís, pick up your copy of Ishtar: Directorís Cut. The movie is quite funny, but itís silly funny. If you didnít like it then, you probably still wonít, but for those of us who have been waiting on it for over 25 years, it is well worth the wait. I am saddened that there arenít any special features whatsoever Ė not even a retrospective, but perhaps those involved just want to forget about it. I imagine buried somewhere along with copies of the Atari game E.T., there are hidden laser disk and Betamax copies of this film, but it shall remain hidden no longer!