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You Dont Mess with the Zohan (2008)

Reviewed on 2008 June 13

I’m not a big Adam Sandler fan — if I want an elbow in the ribs I want something creative or biting delivery, like from Monty Python or Ron White — but the previews looked promising, and I got a kick out of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Besides, the idea of an Israeli counter-terrorist yearning to come to New York to cut hair, of all things, was silly enough to work. The main problem was that while Chuck and Larry would make a joke and kind of move away from it, Zohan kept beating the same jokes into legless pulp for much of its running time.

Zohan (Sandler) is a Mossad agent that could teach MacGyver a few things. He’s hated by the Palestinian terrorist “The Phantom” (John Turturro) and beloved by all of Israel, yet he wants two elusive things: world peace and a chair at Paul Mitchell’s salon. ┬áIn the silliest effective bit of the movie, he escapes to New York and sets out to start a new life. He may be a hero in Israel but to the New York elite(?) he’s a nobody, and he settles for a chair in a run-down salon owned by Dalia (Emmaneulle Chriqui), a Palestinian lady. He has misgivings, but he’s advised by his friend Oori (Ido Mosseri) that nobody cares about that here, as long as he can make his clients pretty. He settles in, little knowing that soon The Phantom will be gunning for him again.

The opening bits are the best, but once he hits New York, it’s a lot of the same stuff over and over again, and it just seems to drag on like a really painful blind date. Gross humor and produce have about the same shelf life. If you’re imaginative to come up with the idea of a Mossad agent wanting to trade his weapons for a blowdryer, your crude jokes should at least be interesting and not a montage of the same crap. Sandler may have a nice butt, but I think I could have lived many more lifetimes without seeing him use it to catch a fish. I have to admit that Turturro was hilarious as The Phantom, and I loved the brilliant swipe at the media towards the end.

One Kosher chocolate morsel, and a little hummus on the side.



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