Rated PG-13 for graphic language, sex-related innuendo, mild nudity
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Written By: Robert Smigel, Adam Sandler, and Judd Apatow
Zohan is a playboy of the Israeli commando world. He cannot be killed or beaten, and has captured some of the most vile of Palestinian terrorists ever, including the formidable “Phantom”. Israel decides to trade Phantom for one of their own agents and Zohan’s obvious disgruntlement with the nature of his profession along with the violence of it has finally worn on him. In a showdown with Phantom, Zohan fakes his own death and leaves for the United States in order to pursue his dream of becoming a hair dresser for the infamous Paul Mitchell. Immediately, Zohan does not fit into New Yorks hip snobbery, though is oblivious to it himself. Now, he not only suffers anonymity, but he must start his career in a new shop run by Palestinians and avoid being recognized by anyone.
Adam Sandler is back. You Don’t Mess With Zohan is the first comedy he’s made in years that has any likeness to the vulgar and shocking comedy of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. The past few years it seems he’s focused more on the sweeter side doing films like Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds, Click, Eight Crazy Nights, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, which simply just were sub-par to the gentle hearted comedy of The Wedding Singer. You Don’t Mess With Zohan incorporates an off-kilter dialect that is silly as his Waterboy and Little Nicky interpretations yet have an undeniable sweetness in it’s creation.
There has been a standard in the film community to which critics and otherwise felt Sandler movies should live up to, and those are generally Billy Madison and The Wedding Singer, yet critics hated each movie and both suffered devastating reviews, which clearly states: Critics don’t get Sandler. Ten years from now they may be singing a different tune about the brilliant comic delivery and creation of You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. The fact is, die hard Sandler fans, the ones that liked Waterboy, Little Nicky, and 50 First Dates, are going to love this nonsensical movie about a terrorist assassin turned hair stylist.
Sandler’s obvious affection for the 80′s plays an intricate piece to the feel of this movie. Our lead character is a man stuck in a time where music was silly and fun and the more hairspray the better. It’s all about the “silky smooth”. The awkwardness of the 80′s incorporated into 2008 is plain funny when Zohan is completely oblivious to the fact that his Paul Mitchell hair book is no longer relevant twenty years later even though it’s completely acceptable in his home land. The visual humour of Zohan/ Scrappy Cocoa’s physical appearance is matched by his outrageous personality that is both vulgar, sweet, and so nonchalant about it’s ridiculous nature it’s impossible not to laugh along with.
There is an obvious serious nature involving the subject at jest, but it doesn’t stop the film makers from making each moment laughable. Every spoof and joke is followed so quickly by another it’s easy to miss even more in between. With a film this over the top and jokes that are never-ending, it’s difficult not to just let go and be entertained by it’s outrageous quality. To take it seriously at all would be it’s death.
There is an acknowledgement on many levels to the situation upon which this story was created, and somehow it’s makers manage to address it in a way that is comedic without insulting it’s validity. It also avoids being racist or offensive in it’s jesting at stereotypes. Most of the humour that involved stereotypes felt affectionate toward the stereotypes and was more or less embraced rather than mocked. It’s a movie full of nonsense but it also was a poignant reminder that we should all be able to laugh at ourselves and remember we are all just people. Could there be more hummus?
The only real negative aspect of the movie was a certain depletion in momentum from the beginning. Toward it’s random climax, some of the building comedy waned off and distractions like Mariah Carey’s nails on a chalkboard brief performance interrupted the path to the obvious finale. Even with that small critique, it was very nearly the funniest movie I’ve seen in a year. Hummas and all.
- Adam Sandler as Zohan/Scrappy Cocoa
- John Turturro as Phantom
- Emmanuelle Chriqui as Dalia
- Rob Schneider as Salim
- Nick Swardsen as Michael
- Lanie Kazan as Gail
- Chris Rock as Taxi Driver
- Ahmed Ahmed as Waleed
- Hummus as Itself
Sandler was actually in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in, and for his sexaholic, cut off jean-shorts wearing character, a nice set of quadriceps was a thankful addition to his hilarious performance. Sandler avoided the over sentimental feel so many of his movies have incidentally drowned in and succeeded in having a clear kindness and sweet message, but never leaving the comedy train of the crazy Zohan. As becomes a near usual, Sandler’s friends and fellow actors made some pretty humorous cameo’s in this roller coaster ride of silliness. Kevin Nealon’s performance, while brief was particularly funny, and the moments between Kevin James and John McEnroe absolutely hilarious. John Turturro as Zohan’s ultimate terrorist nemesis was essentially hysterical to the point of watering eyes. The only role played at all straight was that of Dalia by Emmanuelle Chriqui. While her character attempted to be the voice of reason and bring order to the movie, she was consistently over-trumped by not only Zohan, but her own over the hill customers.
Ratings And Suggestions
If you aren’t already an Adam Sandler fan or don’t appreciate some of his past work, more than likely You Don’t Mess With The Zohan isn’t going to be your cup of tea. It sustains all the best qualities of his previous movies and evolved them into a fresh idea for a plot and theme that is unlike anything out there today. Though each and every aspect of it’s existence is virtual insanity it’s impossible not to get caught up in. For all the old fans of Adam Sandler movies, you are in for a well waited treat. For those that aren’t, by all means, don’t take yourself so seriously and enjoy You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. This is worth the expensive trip to the theatre to be able to share the laughter with a crowd of people gut busting next to you. This is an easy purchase for me once it hits the DVD stands. Three And A Half Hummus Filled Stars.