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You Don’t Mess With The Zohan

You Don't Mess With The Zohan


What do you get when you creative minds behind Happy Gilmore, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and The 40-Year-Old Virgin?

A hilarious satire. Full disclosure: although I like Adam Sandler, I haven’t really liked one of his movies since The Waterboy. And I don’t really think Judd Apatow’s movies are as funny or good as people think. The 40-Year-Old Virgin was mildly amusing only because I have an acquaintance who is the 31 year old virgin and is eerily similar to Steve Carrell’s character. That being said, I do like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, especially when he makes fun of Star Wars nerds.

I found myself laughing at You Don’t Mess With The Zohan more than any other major studio comedy of the past few years. It’s an absurdist satire with a bit of an edge that balances out its bite with pure silliness. The movie is so over-the-top that it plays like a cartoon similar to Stephen Chow’s movies Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle.

Zohan using a human shield

Abandoning the stunted, man-child character he usually plays, Adam Sandler’s Zohan is a likable caricature of action movie stereotypes. He’s super-strong, super-fast and super-sexy in a way that James Bond could never be; and all he wants to be is a hair stylist. And in a bit of genius casting, John Turturro plays Zohan’s equal and nemesis, The Phantom. Who would have ever thought these two would be playing Middle Eastern commandos?

Zohan with The Phantom

Like the best Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker movies (The Naked Gun, Airplane!), Sandler and co. throw a million jokes at the audience and most of them stick, especially the ones involving race, sex and politics. Where the movie stumbles is when it focuses on the required love interest and the wannabe terrorist subplot featuring Rob Schneider. Thankfully, the movie spends a minimum of time on these forced subplots and the pointless cameos by SNL alums Chris Rock and Kevin Nealon.

Where You Don’t Mess With The Zohan excels is when it parodies the ultra masculine action heroes and movies that the Zohan is based on. The chase scenes and fights are inspired silliness and based on a kind of cartoon logic. If you can’t appreciate silliness, you’re going to hate this movie.

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