Wednesday, February 4, 2015

You Don't Mess with the Zohan

You Don't Mess with the Zohan; comedy, USA, 2008; D: Dennis Dugan, S: Adam Sandler, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Rob Schneider, John Torturro, Nick Swardson, Lainie Kazan

Sick and tired of the Arab-israeli conflict, superhuman IDF agent Zohan decides to fake his own death and escape to the USA, where he plans to follow his dream of becoming a hairdresser. He stays at the home of Michael and his mother Gail, and then finds a job at the hairdresser saloon run by the Palestinian girl Dalia. Zohan actually falls in love with her. When the Arab extremist Fatoush, his arch enemy, finds out he is still alive and wants to continue the fight, Zohan refuses and thus causes the Arab-Jewish community in the block to unite and prevent a tycoon from building a new mall on their spot.

One of those movies that give the adjective "American comedy" a bad name, "You Don't Mess with Zohan" is awful. With the screenwriting process, screenwriters usually have ten bad ideas and one good idea per day, but are wise enough not to write the bad ones down, instead just using one good idea that day. With this film, it seems the screenwriters did the reverse and wrote all the bad ideas that popped into their heads, with only an ocassional good joke here and there. The result is a film filled with stupid, juvenile, silly buffonery that is so bizarre you cannot believe it and think the joke may lie with a lost bet or a screenwriter or something. In one scene, Zohan and Fatoush are in the sea and decide to have a duel to find out who is tougher: Fatoush takes a piranha from the sea and let's it bite his neck to show how strong he is, but Zohan takes the piranha and puts it into his own pants. There are numerous other stupid attempts at humor: a misguided "Rocky" parody where Fatoush is training by hatching two chicks from two eggs in a glass and then drinking them (!); Zohan doing push ups and "floating" to clap his hands for a very long time; a football where a cat is used as a ball... This would have been a clear bad film, if it weren't for one little saving grace: it is one of the rare examples of tackling the Arab-Israeli conflict as a comedy, and has a surprisingly noble and pacifist message where the Israeli Zohan and Palestinian girl Dalia meet in New York and fall in love. Their love story is almost the sweetest thing, and deserved for a better treatment than all the crap thrown at the screen surrounding them.


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