You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5

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There’s a lot to dislike about You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. For one, Adam Sandler blatantly ripping off Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali G and Borat characters as superhuman Mossad agent-turned-hairdresser Zohan, such that he even borrows the latter’s trademark “Is nice!” In addition, Rob Schneider hitting new lows as a wannabe Muslim terrorist. And also, half-hearted “let’s all get along” pap regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that the film—Sandler’s second comedy-of-tolerance after I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry—doesn’t seem to really believe. Yet despite these and other big-time deficiencies, including a gratuitous runtime padded out with DOA cameos from Sandler pals and subplots that barely warrant being DVD supplements, Zohan is, against all odds, the star’s funniest effort in close to a decade. Not exactly a monumental feat given the junk he’s recently made a mint foisting on the American public, but still. In his latest (co-written by Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow), Sandler’s secret agent, an invincible soldier and ladies’ man who wears Mariah Carey t-shirts and ‘80s-era cut-off jean shorts, tires of dispatching Palestinian terrorists and, consequently, fakes his death and flees to New York to fulfill his Paul Mitchell styling dreams. There, he gets a job at a salon run by Palestinian beauty Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), where he becomes a sensation giving old ladies absurdly eroticized hair cuts that are followed by actual sex. Idiotic, yes, but surprisingly amusing, given Sandler’s all-out, gung-ho dedication to arbitrary, puerile ridiculousness, which similarly flourishes during early scenes featuring John Turturro’s cartoonish Palestinian villain the Phantom. Unappealing from an aesthetic point of view, dim-witted when it comes to politics (which are, in the final outcome, subtly pro-Israel), and scattershot in the humor department, Zohan is, as befitting a Dugan-helmed project, quite slapdash. All the same, it has the unruly dumb-silly energy that characterizes Sandler’s best material, from a recurring gag about Zohan’s love of hummus (he uses it to, among other things, brush his teeth and put out a fire) to the sight of the Israeli’s herculean skills at hacky-sacking a cat, to a supremely unnecessary, expertly moronic Rocky-ish training sequence featuring the Phantom cracking open eggs and gulping down live baby chicks.

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DVD
Distributor
Columbia Pictures
Runtime
112 min
Rating
PG-13
Year
2008
Director
Dennis Dugan
Screenwriter
Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, Judd Apatow
Cast
Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Nick Swardson, Lainie Kazan, Ido Mosseri, Rob Schneider, Dave Matthews, Michael Buffer