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You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)

You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Feature film. (2008, 113 mins) IMDB

...What do the pro-Israeli folks think of a movie like this?...

I

'm not a big fan of Adam Sandler and I was reluctant to watch the film, but I did and to my surprise I laughed a number of times. It's funnier than his usual outings and this film has his usual fair. Gays are always a target and this film is no exception.

As the movie started, I watched as he played an Israeli Jew and since he's Jewish, I thought, oh no, another propaganda film. It'll be one sided, but it's not. The whole issue of Jews and Arabs fighting plays a central role in the film, but for comic effect--especially once the film moves to NYC. It's a bit like Spielberg's MUNICH with it's message: stop the fighting. You guys are all crazy with your non-stop fighting and revenge.

There's a main narrative for our hero combined with a love story. The love story is easy. He's Jewish. She's Arabic. They split when she finds out he's Jewish, but of course they get back together.

At the start of the movie, we learn he's a superhero type working for the Israeli Military. He fights terrorists. We see him fighting terrorists with a touch of action, action that is comic book style. For example, he catches bullets with his hands and with his teeth. It's a bit like Bug Bunny putting his finger in the barrel of a shotgun. The gun goes off. Bugs is unharmed. The barrel has wrapped back and exploded on the shooter.

Anyway, he doesn't want to be a commando anymore, it's senseless killing with no end, what he really wants to do is be a hairstylist in NYC. When he tells people, they laugh. They think he's a fagala, but that's what he wants. Since he can't leave on his own, he fakes his death and flies off to NYC. And Act II starts.

Enter a struggle to find a place to work. Enter a Crocodile Dundee moment. Enter an Arab woman running a hair saloon where he gets a job sweeping up hair and the first time they meet we know they are meant for each other. Enter a street with Arabs on one side selling electronics and humus and Jews on the other side. No fighting going on here.

Enter both Jewish and Arab immigrants who know his real identity as the superhero for Israel fighting terrorists.

Yes, there's some sort of narrative for him plus the love story. Plus immigrant Arabs who want to get him, but they are as useful as a beached whale.

And if there wasn't enough conflict and characters, this film is loaded with characters, there's a Donald Trump type wanting to raze the building where our sweet Arab woman is running her saloon. I have no idea why they threw that in except to make fun of stuffed-shirt types.

Silly and absurd. A touch sappy. Ridiculous and absurd. Occasionally funny, even Rob Schneider. It's not the greatest or funniest comedy you'll see, but it's not the worse. And yes I did laugh and I didn't regret having watch it although some may question my sanity for making a public declaration on my web site.

Posted 2009/02/10 at 20h13ET in Movie Commentary.

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