You Don't Mess With The Zohan

By Kelsey Zukowski,
You Don
Author Rating: 
2.0 Stars - I Didn't Like It

Starring: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Nick Swardson, Emmanuelle Chriqui
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Written By: Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel

"You Don't Mess With The Zohan" might very well be Adam Sandler's worst movie. It is certainly his most unfunny film and it tries to force this over-the-top comedy that lacks any humor. Oddly enough, Sandler's performance makes it seem like he tried too hard, but at the same time, given that he wrote this overly stale material, it is hard to believe that he tried at all. "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" is incredibly beneath Sandler and his stellar cast, all who deserved better. He has been on the decline in the past decade. It is no question that he past up his prime long ago with films like "Billy Madison," "Waterboy," and "Happy Gilmore."

The characters in these films were incredibly goofy, but at least they had some element that was grounded in reality. They might have been moronic, but they were lovable characters. Zohan is completely ridiculous, miles away from anything even slightly resembling any type of reality. Also there was great comedy in other Sandler films and there is none in "You Don't Mess With The Zohan."

An over-the-top and ridiculous comedy that is not even slightly comedic is the issue here. Sandler's comedies obviously aren't meant to be taken that seriously, but I enjoyed those made in his slump to an extent such as "Little Nicky" and "Mr. Deeds." Sandler seems to be at the point in his career where he is unable to create the goofy and full of life characters. Rather than him trying to force sour and tasteless humor, I would much prefer him giving powerful and meaningful dramatic performances such as in "Reign Over Me.""The Zohan," played by Sandler, is one of the most valued Israeli Special Forces soldiers. He has killed countless terrorists and other enemies in the service of his country. The Zohan seems to be unstoppable. He doesn't feel pain and can instantaneously take out his target no matter how much the odds are turned on him. The Zohan barely has to lift a finger and uses his physical capabilities that are seemingly impossible for any human to possess, dispelling notions of gravity. He has been fighting and protecting his country for years. It doesn't look like the war will end anytime soon as it has already been going on for thousands of years and aggressions between Israelis and Palestinians are stronger than ever. When Zohan's arch-nemisis, Phantom, played by Tururro, tries to kill him, Zohan lets him think that he did. This is his chance to get out of the life of a warrior, his chance to chase after his dream of going to America and being a hairdresser.

Zohan tries to get a job as a hairdresser at a number of salons, from the highest class to the lowest and is rejected and mocked for being so outdated. He manages to get a job at a Palestinian hair salon but he is only a hair sweeper and isn't getting paid. He eventually proves himself and turns the salon from one that is going out of business to a hot spot. The success is partially due to the "silky smooth" haircuts and partially because Zohan has sex with the middle aged and elderly ladies who he works on.

Soon enough, a cab driver, Salim, played by Schneider, finds out who he is. He sees Phantom living like a king, with a fast food franchise named after him for killing Zohan. So Salim tries to get a cut of the deal to keep his secret, spawning Phantom to finish the job he started. Amongst all this, all of the shops run by immigrants are attempted to be bought out by a businessman looking to build a mall with an indoor roller coaster. He tries to pin the Israeli and Palestinians against each other.

The acting was somewhat mixed here but most of the actors actually did decent with what they had. Adam Sandler was the worst, depending on his extremely fake and unfounded accent for laughs. He would either say a set of words rapidly or slowly and dragged out. This was partially the writing, which he is guilty of as well, but his performance was so lackluster, lifeless, and almost arrogantly sloppy that it took even more away from the film.

Luckily some of the other actors do a little better, although most of these are only featured roles. Emmanuelle Chriqui does pretty well as Zohan's romantic interest, perhaps too good since it doesn't seem like she would be with Zohan in a million years. Her performance exceeds Sandler's because she actually attains our respect and gets us to like her. John Turturro pulls off Phantom very well. He is arrogant and self-indulgent and especially with strength aspects is very much like Zohan, yet he plays this so much better than Sandler does. He's goofy and cartoonish, not seeming very realistic in real world terms, but this is okay because he has fun with it and gives the audience the closest thing to fun that they get during the course of the film. Sandler regulars such as Rob Schneider and Kevin Nealon as well as Chris Rock bring a similar persona and try to spice things up and make them a bit more fun. They are all full of life and personality and do what they can to detract from the mind numbing time that we are stuck with Sandler and the dreadful Zohan.

The attempted comedy is almost solely sexually and slapstick based. This wouldn't be so bad if there was any variation or elaboration on this or even if the joke the first time had any actual comedy involved. Zohan's size is extremely exaggerated and he randomly taps his fingers against himself and scratches a record on a turn table with his scrotum. He has sex with older ladies in particular, this is a running joke, but aside from the fact of the age difference, there really is no attempted joke to even point out. The slapstick comedy is just him beating up other people, turning their bodies in to a pretzel shape and kicking their heads with his feet while the rest of his body is seemingly floating in mid air.

I didn't laugh once throughout the whole film. I had low expectations and originally didn't have any intentions of seeing this movie. I was hoping it would have at least made me laugh once though or had an interesting theme as it does deal with immigrants and war. The only good thing about this movie is the cast, aside from Sandler. Yet, it ends up just being depressing that these talents couldn't have been brought to a better film.


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