Saturday, September 13, 2008

You Don't Mess With The Zohan

Year: 2008
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Nick Swardson, Ido Mosseri, Rob Schneider

Adam Sandler movies can be either really funny or really stupid. But what I do enjoy is Sandler's honest approach at comedy. He knows what he's good at and uses it to his advantage. But there are times when he goes overboard, and you need to keep yourself from cringing too much.

In You Don't Mess With The Zohan, Sandler plays, get Israeli counter terrorist agent called Zohan. He's the best in his organisation; he kicks holes through walls, swims faster than a jetski and catches bullets with his nostrils, among other things. Yes, they made Sandler a superhero with all the powers of the Justice League. Anyway, Zohan has been given the task to apprehend his arch-nemesis, the terrorist from Palestin called The Phantom (John Turturro). However, Zohan is growing weary of all the fighting between his country and Palestin. All he wants now is to do something else, namely cutting and styling hair!

So what does he do? He fakes his death during a battle with The Phantom and flies to America. Once there, he wastes no time in trying to get a job as a hairstylist, but finds that no hair salon will take him seriously. He befriends a guy named Michael (Nick Swardson), who offers him a place to stay. Then he meets up with an Israelian living in New York, Oori (Ido Mosseri), who helps him get a job at a hair salon run by a Palestinian girl, Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Dalia is sceptical of Zohan (who calls himself Scrappy Coco after arriving in NY) because he has no experience, but is truly impressed when Zohan does a great job in styling the hair of numerous middle aged women at the salon. All is fine and well until a Palestinian taxi driver (Rob Schneider) recognises Zohan and makes plans to capture him.

This is a unique film in the sense that it makes light of the Israel Palestin crisis, showing both sides being able to get along on the streets of New York, and making fun of the people from both countries in a stereotypical way. But it is by no means offensive, unless the viewer happens to be an extreme type, which I am not. Director Dennis Dugan, working on a script co-written by Sandler, Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow (Knocked Up), throws the action and laughs hard and fast, sparing no effort in making the film as crude and outrageous as possible.

And actually, that's where the problem really lies. Less is more sometimes, and I do wish they hadn't tried so hard to bury the film with an array of sexual humour. In the film, Zohan 'bangs' his customers after he styles their hair, and honestly I don't see why this is necessary, and it's not very funny either. And the numerous references to Zohan's crotch and what it does (if you know what I mean) wasn't humorous too.

But the film does have several good moments, especially when Zohan shows off his superhuman skills. It's cartoonish sometimes, sure. But just go with the flow and keep in mind it's Sandler on screen, and you'll enjoy it. I'm also impressed with Sandler keeping his body well toned for this film. He's the last guy I'd expect to do that. Also look out for numerous cameos from Chris Rock (least funny one), John McEnroe, Kevin James, George Takei and Mariah Carey.

Overall, it's not the best Adam Sandler flick, but it's passable. (3/5)

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