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June 11, 2008 > Movie Review: You Don't Mess With The Zohan

Movie Review: You Don't Mess With The Zohan

By Joe Samagond

"You Don't Mess with the Zohan" shows that Hollywood comedies are now ready to lampoon global politics after 9/11. Adam Sandler and his usual directorial accomplice Dennis Dugan are as crass and obvious as ever. However, the screenwriting contributions of Robert Smigel ("TV Funhouse") and Judd Apatow provide "Zohan" a much-needed dose of chutzpah.
Sandler stars as Zohan, a topnotch Mossad agent whose specialty is taking out Palestinian terrorists. But when he's not stopping bullets with his nostrils or other body parts, he dreams of leaving conflict behind and moving to New York City to become a hair stylist. His parents are non-supportive and mock him but he refuses to be thwarted. So Zohan fakes his death in a battle with his arch-nemesis, The Phantom (John Turturro), and pursues his dream.
Once in New York, he finds a job at a salon owned by Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), gets lessons in how to cut hair by Claude (Alec Mapa), and services ladies of a certain age to his heart's content. A neat aspect of this movie is the multiethnic backdrop where different worlds are constantly running into each other. A Palestinian cab driver (Rob Schneider) does double duty from his taxi as a phone salesman for the Spiegel catalog. An Israeli electronics salesman (Ido Mosseri) haggles with his landlord about rent as if he were bartering in a flea market. Zohan's romance with Dalia, who is of Palestine origin, gives the movie another chance to make a "let's all get along" pitch. Director Dennis Dugan's fondness for these cultural collisions dampens the ho-hum fluff. This is, after all, a comedy featuring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as its centerpiece and terrorism as its mainstay.
The movie is funny in parts but overdoes Adam's libido in ways that are gross and with questionable taste. It still works and comes across a fun movie based on current global politics.

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 113 minutes

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