Don’t mess or be fooled by Sandler’s Zohan
We should have known better. It’s been Adam Sandler’s method for years to give us a glimpse of his comedies in previews with a sly implication of silly, almost innocent humor. Unfortunately, movie trailers don’t come with a warning label.
If they did, Sandler’s latest, “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” a film in which he stars, produced and shares writing credits, should have a big label that reads “20% above average humor, 80% below the belt class.”
This is really a shame since films that dare undertake a parody of the Islamic world are rare indeed and much of the fun here involves politically incorrect satire and skewering of Middle East stereotypes.
Sandler is the title character, a sort of Israeli super agent who secretly yearns to go to America to cut hair and make the world “silky smooth.” By day he is a one man Mossad killing machine who can catch bullets in his nostrils and whose many deft skills also allow him to be a highly gifted hacky sack player. Besides taking every opportunity to show off his newly carved physique, (both front and ahem, behind) Sandler seems early in the film to earnestly strive to make his character likeable–a formula that worked in his first few films way back in the 90s!
When Zohan gets to Manhattan and finally gets a job in a salon run by a beautiful Palestinian (Emmanuelle Chriqui) the majority of the jokes and in turn, the movie point southward where no crotch-oriented joke goes unused and repeated ad naseum. Instead of remaining merely a surly tease to his female customers who end up flocking to the salon, (a more interesting albeit tamer premise) the writers show little restraint as our hedonistic hero takes to the back room where wall shaking perpetrations ensue.
Cameos abound, as do socio-political barbs many of which are truly funny. (The mid-town Israeli run electronics store where a pushy salesman displaying a suspicious cell phone tells a customer “Push this button?” Free HBO!”)
Having lost any sense of the “less-is-more” comedy axiom, Sandler and friends seem more determined to push the envelope of PG-13 acceptability and the boundaries of vulgarity. Parents beware: this is not your kid’s Adam Sandler movie anymore.
And typical of a Sandler vehicle, the raunch fest concludes with a desperate attempt at sentimentality-in this case some Middle East peacemaking-and feels about as sincere as a politician’s apology.
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language and nudity.