You Don't Mess With The Zohan
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast Commentary (Including Sandler & Schneider); Director’s Commentary; 10 Featurettes including; “The Stunts of Zohan”; “Laughing is Contagious”; “Look Who Stopped By”; “Zohan vs. The Phantom”; 15 Deleted Scenes.
HAVING offended just about everyone with his last comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry (a tale of two straight firemen posing as a gay couple), Adam Sandler now takes aim at the Middle East crisis in hairdressing comedy You Don’t Mess With The Zohan.
The results are predictably lame even though most of the offence stems from its inability to make you laugh, rather than any misguided point making at the expense of Middle Eastern politics.
Legendary MOSSAD agent The Zohan (Sandler) fakes his own death at the hands of nemesis The Phantom (John Turturro) so that he can head to New York to pursue his dream of becoming a hairdresser.
Once there, the only job he can find is in a Palestinian salon so, adopting the alter-ego Scrappy Coco, he sets about realising his ambition and falling in love with the salon’s beautiful owner, Darlia (Emmanuelle Chriqui). It’s not long, though, before The Phantom heads to the Big Apple as well, having been summoned by a vengeful Palestinian cab driver (Rob Schneider).
Incredibly, Dennis Dugan’s film stems from a script featuring the combined talents of Sandler, Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow (of Knocked Up/Superbad fame) – yet the best they can come up with in the laughter department are repeated scenes of Zohan styling and then romancing elderly women (admittedly, chuckle inducing), running gags involving hummus or Schneider’s perpetually thwarted attempts to gain revenge (witness him attempting to dial the Hezbollah hotline).
At a little short of two hours, though, the laughs are extremely strained, while even attempts to play to the romantic comedy crowd are marred by clunky plot revelations and low brow gags.
As for the Middle East connection, it’s self-consciously touchy-feely so as not to offend and borderline patronising in its attempts to arrive at the inevitable conclusions (we should all just love each other really).
The most frustrating thing about You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, however, is that it once again highlights the gulf that exists between the two sides of Adam Sandler: in comedic form, he’s frequently irritating and even lazy, while attempts to branch into drama frequently yield much richer rewards. It’s clear he needs a comedy make-over that’s every bit as radical as the haircuts his Zohan character dishes out to customers.
Running time: 113mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 19, 2009
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Adam Sandler interview
- Zohan photo gallery