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You Don't Mess With the Zohan
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Comedy superstar Adam Sandler is back - and funnier than ever - as The Zohan, the finest counterterrorist agent the Israeli army has. That is, until he fakes his death and travels to Manhattan to live his dream...as a hairdresser. Now this skilled fighting machine who used to clip bad guys is out to prove he can make the cut as a top stylist. All goes silky smooth until his cover is blown when he's recognized by a Palestinian cab driver (Rob Schneider). Now, The Zohan must fight to live a peaceful new life in New York in this razor-sharp action-packed comedy from Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, Judd Apatow and Dennis Dugan.
If You Don't Mess with the Zohan feels like an extended and crazed sketch from Saturday Night Live, there are reasons for that. Zohan's star and SNL alumnus Adam Sandler is joined by several fellow cast members (in uncredited cameo roles) from his years on the NBC show. But Sandler also co-wrote the film's absurdist script with SNL veteran writer and sometime-performer Robert Smigel. Echoes of a few of their classic skits on the show--built around high-strung Israeli characters obsessed with disco and selling junk electronics out of a New York shop--are in revisited in Zohan and are a lot of fun to see again. Zohan is unbridled nonsense thrown at the wall, but with a sunny disposition that proves surprisingly persuasive. Sandler stars as an Israeli intelligence operative who fakes his death to reinvent himself in New York City as a hairdresser. Putting the lie to assumptions that any man in that professional field must be gay, Zohan routinely provides raucous sexual favors for all of his older female customers. The sight of bottles of gels and hairsprays falling off shelves while the indefatigable Zohan pleasures randy grannies on the other side of a salon wall is pure SNL, and is funnier than it might sound. The silly story involves an old, Palestinian enemy of Zohan, the Phantom (John Turturro), showing up in Manhattan, but everything is really leading to a Big Apple version of the resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflicts we'd all like to see on a large scale. The film is almost instantly forgettable, and there are many times it veers toward the dumb, but it also sells itself well as a nutty concept. --Tom Keogh
Stills from You Dont Mess with the Zohan (click for larger image)
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I wanted to see this movie and now I have. It's on the better side of Sandler films, most of which I've seen. I don't think it's better than some of the classics, for example "Bulletproof", "The Waterboy", "The Wedding Singer" or in his deeper fare, the excellent "Punch Drunk Love". I even liked "Funny People" more. But it is an interesting and original character in the Sandler catalogue all things considered. No, I don't think it's comparable to Borat, as someone mentioned - another great movie btw - though speaking of Sacha Baron Kohen, this movie Zohan may be of more resemblance to Kohen's "Bruno" which was TRULY hilarious - I ached from laughing so hard when I saw that. That movie however makes the crude humor in "Zohan" look tame (you've been warned!). All things considered, I'm not sure Zohan is really 4 star material, but if not then it's a very high 3. No need to tell Sandler fans it's worth a look. Zohan is an entertaining and decent movie altogether, but fell a bit short of its potential I thought.. to sum up in 3 words: it was ok.