“You Don’t Mess with The Zohan” movie review

Published 7:29 pm Thursday, June 12, 2008

“You Don’t Mess with The Zohan”

Columbia Pictures

Directed by Dennis Dugan

Starring Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rob Schneider, Lainie Kazan and Mariah Carrey

Rated PG-13

2 1/2 Stars

My inner frat boy always gets a kick out of Adam Sandler, even when his comedies are hit and miss (more miss than hit recently). Still, no matter how dumbed-down his films may be, I tend to enjoy the silly antics and abundant energy of Sandler’s various characters.

Sandler doesn’t really break any new ground with his latest comedy, “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.” The comic plays the title character, an Israeli super spy who wants to stop fighting terrorists and follow his dream of becoming a hair stylist instead. So he fakes his death and sneaks into New York, where he takes a job sweeping up hair at a salon run by an attractive Palestinian woman (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Now working under the alias of Scrappy Coco, it’s not long before our hero rises to the top thanks to his hair styling abilities as well as his abilities to “please” the older women who quickly become his most devoted customers.

It’s also not long before an Arab cabbie working in New York (Rob Schneider) recognizes the retired spy and reports his findings to terrorist headquarters, thus bringing the Middle East conflict to the streets on NYC. Fortunately, terrorists in America are no problem for Zohan, whose fighting skills would put most super heroes to shame. The fighting is way over-the-top and quite funny, but Sandler would rather be a lover than a fighter; so much of the film is dedicated to sex jokes, such as the off-putting spectacle of Zohan having sex with a series of older women.

These jokes help with the funny concept, initially, but they quickly loose much of their punch in repetition. Indeed, much of the film’s humor gets old after variations on the joke are repeated over and over again. There’s some nice humor to be mined in jokes about Hummus, the prominent bulge in Zohan’s crotch, multiple celebrity cameos and Rob Schneider. All are funny at the beginning, but quickly wear out their welcome — okay, so Schneider is always embarrassing, but you get the point.

Ultimately, “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” gets points for a funny concept and a game cast willing to commit their energy and enthusiasm to this silly little story. I wish that the humor wasn’t so repetitive, I wish that the supporting cast wasn’t largely wasted (particularly Chriqui; brought in only to be eye candy). I also wish that “Zohan” had a stronger ending. Yet despite all of the film’s problems, there are still plenty of very funny moments and Zohan is one of Sandler’s more enjoyable characters.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and weekly on KFDM-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kavutv.com.

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