Ishtar is one of those movies remembered for its failings, on screen and off. Neither as bad as snobbish, know-all critics of the time had us believe, nor as great as the extremely talented Warren Beatty evidently thought it would be, Ishtar is still an enjoyable movie.
Described at the time as a "vanity production" which lost $40 million, Ishtar apparently previewed well, and was number one on its opening weekend, only to be beaten by a b-grade horror movie called The Gate. Stories of rampant egotism, "creative differences", and grandscale self-indulgence filled the movie press, and Ishtar ended 1987 as the number one turkey.
Watching it today, free from any need to justify its existence, Ishtar has its moments - how could it not, with stars like Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and director Elaine May? It deserves credit for trying something different (a romantic comedy with a political subtext, touching on themes of oil and power). I have a soft spot for the film, but would be the first to admit that this isn't Beatty's finest hour - for that, check out Reds, which is a masterpiece. But if you do buy Ishtar (and it isn't cheap), give it a chance. No one else did 25 years ago.