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You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)
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Review Date: August 13, 2008
Director: Dennis Dugan
Writer: Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, Robert Smigel
Producers: Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo
Actors:
Adam Sandler as Zohan
Emmanuelle Chriqui as Dalia
John Turturro as The Phantom
Plot:
A top-notch Israeli commando decides to follow his dreams and book it over to the States in order to become a hairdresser. After several unsuccessful starts, he finally lands a job at a Palestinian girl’s hair salon, but not before some local Arabs recognize him and begin to plot a scheme to capture him. What follows is plenty of humor regarding the Middle East, super-human powers, an incredible penis and hummus. You dig the Zohan?
Critique:
It felt like it’d been a while since I’d laughed pretty steadily to an Adam Sandler flick (or maybe I just needed one to wash the bad taste out of my mouth after the unfunniness that was I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY), but the first 15 minutes of this film cracked my ass up, especially all of the stuff featuring Sandler as a super-Israeli commando, who could probably do more than Superman himself (love the way he caught those bullets). Things were still pretty humorous as he moved to the States, but the storyline was about as thin as my aging hair, with Sandler acting like a disco-loving, flashy-dressing hair-stylist who can’t seem to escape his terrorist-fighting past (and how is it that his character is not gay??). That said, the screenplay was filled with enough legitimately funny one-liners, visual action gags and Middle-Eastern humor, to keep me smiling despite some of its lesser successful parts, like any scene in which Sandler is cutting people’s hair or even worse, nailing old ladies in salons! And no, I’m not kidding. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the screenwriters (three of the funnier dudes in showbiz) decided to make Sandler a hair-stylist for the geriatric here (why not young hot girls?), and as if that wasn’t enough…they made sure that he had sex with them too (including Mrs. Garrett from TV’s “The Facts of Life”, kids).

I didn’t really “get into” that stuff, or the numerous scenes in which Sandler is either patting his penis or rubbing it up against people, but that aside, I really enjoyed all of the hummus jokes, all of the stuff involving the seemingly endless “war” between the Israelis and Palestinians, and all of Sandler’s super-human tomfoolery. That said, my parents grew up in that area of the world, so I kinda absorbed some of that shit myself, including hummus on the dinner table every now and then (although I can’t say we ever brushed our teeth with it…hilarious!), but suspect that the film might not “play” that well across the board, seeing as there were a number of jokes that were based on habits and words known to folks from that area, but not necessarily everyone else (the same can be said about the aggressive electronics salespeople in NY city…will everyone get those in-jokes?). That said, I cracked up more than I didn’t, and even though the film ended a little weakly (a hacky-sack tournament and an awful cameo by Mariah Carey), I did appreciate the “message” that it brought to the forefront, which was the Rodney King mantra of the century: “Can’t we all just get along?” John Turturro was also fun as The Phantom and Emmanuelle Chriqui is just plain hot, so two more reasons to check the film out. Heck, even Rob Schneider wasn’t terribly annoying here.

All in all, I cracked up during a lot of this movie, and to be honest, I think I probably missed some of the jokes too, since many of the peeps in the film sported accents that were hard to decipher at times. I look forward to watching it again on DVD though, with subtitles on and my pants off! Whatever that means. And hummus all over my nachos, of course.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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