Starring: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui
Director: Dennis Dugan
Release Date: June 6, 2008
Running Time: 113 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
My appreciation of the career of Adam Sandler has been a tumultuous affair. It started with Billy Madison. With every bone in my critic and non-critic being, I know it to be an atrocity of a movie. But I still like it. Happy Gilmore paid it forward and then Bulletproof came along. I didn’t like it, but I appreciated the departure from his brand of stupid comedy. Then he went back to his stupid brand of comedy for a few films, then Punch-Drunk Love came out and blew everybody away. Then he went back to the well, then Spanglish. The well. Reign Over Me. The well. And so on. Whether it works or not, every time he tries something different he follows it up with a few old stand by’s. You almost have to admire his tenacity.
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is Sandler swimming to the bottom of the well. For that he makes no apology. From the time the movie starts, there is no mistake that this will be a huge dish of Sandler pie with all the fixins. The title alone is ridiculous and the premise is nothing short of insanely stupid. Zohan Divr (Sandler) is the top agent for the Mossad, the Israeli secret police, who grows tired of the fighting between the Israel and Palestine. He decides to fake his own death and move to New York City to realize his dream of becoming a hairdresser. People who will see this movie will see it because they want to with the knowledge of the title and the premise in hand before doing so. Anyone that willingly sees it with that kind of ammunition will enjoy it.
I’m not sure what I expected but I am surprised by how much I didn’t hate it. I keep avoiding saying out loud that I liked it, because it’s almost shameful that I did. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is the kind of movie that you have every right to despise but you can’t find a reason to do so. Not a good one anyway. The movie is stupid, but it generated enough laughs to keep me entertained. Even if the political message got a little heavy-handed towards the conclusion, it was handled with such a “can’t we all just get along” approach that it doesn’t get weighed down. The plot doesn’t really surface until oddly late in the film, but it is only there to drive the action. The movie is really just about a military super-agent that wants to cut hair. If there was any question at all, after the first five minutes you knew that Sandler and Co. were only out to do one thing – entertain themselves and hope everyone else got the joke.
The story is ridiculous but it is so over the top you can’t even use that as an argument. It reminds me of the final battle at the end of 8 Mile. Rabbit knew exactly what weaknesses his opponent would try to use against him so he defended himself by using it first, leaving them only one response:
And there's the rub.
*** out of ****