Lyle Rogers and Chuck Clarke are remarkably untalented songwriters who together dream of becoming a successful music duo. Just when all hope appears to be lost, the two men are offered a rather shady gig at a North African hotel, entertaining U.S. armed forces stationed in Ishtar. Heading to Ishtar, Lyle and Chuck become involved in a rebellion against the countries' leader, with Shirra,a mysterious woman, and C.I.A. agent Jim Harrison each manipulating them to serve their agenda. Elaine May's Ishtar is not nearly as bad as I was led to believe but it still suffers from an uneven narrative. The opening sequence, or prelude, is by far the highlight of the film, feeling a lot like other Elaine May character studies. We spend time with these loveable losers with May's direction and writing beautifully defining them while capturing the struggles of a dreamer. This prelude set in New York almost feels like a completely different movie, with Lyle & Chuck's adventure in Ishtar lacking much excitement at all. The narrative through this section of Ishtar feels stunted, revolving too much on a rather dull commentary on Reagan-era militarism that wears out its welcome. In fact, the most entertaining aspect revolves around how these two well-meaning but dim-witted individuals are able to achieve so much while comprehending so little. Through much of their adventure in Ishtar the men are at odds with each other and yet it's through their odd collaboration that they succeed. Ishtar is not a laugh-out-loud type of comedy but at its best it's a sharp, clever comedy but unfortunately outside of Lyle and Chuck's loveable dim-witted characters it's rather forgettable.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.