You Don’t Mess With the Zohan (2008) — Don’t let these cut-offs turn you off

“I just want to make people silky-smooth!”

Justin’s rating: 1001 uses for hummus

Justin’s review: Do you have a dream job that you’ve yet to realize? Sure you do. Maybe the world will snicker that you want to be a chinchilla slaughterhouse specialist or a septic tank detailer. Perhaps your parents disowned you when you admitted that you were running for congress. It’s even possible that you were literally tarred and feathered when you let it slip that you were considering a career in aggressive telemarketing. I won’t judge you.

That’s a lie. I will judge you. I will look down on the pathetic state of your life and deem you a forever failure. But let’s move past this.

Anyone who’s ever harbored a secret, unrealized dream will sympathize with Zohan (Adam Sandler). He’s an Israeli human super-weapon who just wants to cut hair instead of kicking grenades into eye sockets. Finally sick of his assigned profession, Zohan fakes his death, assumes a new name (Scrappy Coco), and steals off to America to become the hairdresser of his wildest fantasies.

As Zohan helps a Palenstinian-owned salon become wildly popular (mostly thanks to his incessant hitting on the older women who come calling), he’s got to deal with a trio of jilted terrorists, his long-time arch-nemesis (John Turturro), corporate shills, and blossoming feelings for the salon’s owner Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui). It’ll take all of his army AND hairstyle training to save the day.

Usually when a comedian known for wacky flicks branches off into romantic comedies and dramas, they never return. So it’s heartening to see Sandler take up a completely ridiculous character and flop about in a comedy that somehow mashes together Israeli/Palestine politics, hairstyling, terrorism, and disco dancing.

You Don’t Mess With the Zohan is a full return to the zany ’90s outings that originally made him famous, albeit with a whole lot more sexual innuendo than I witnessed in Happy Gilmore. And it’s stocked full of Sandler’s usual cadre of supporting actors. I honestly think that Rob Schneider would’ve starved to death long before now if Sandler didn’t keep throwing him a bone.

Apart from the awkward obsession with Sandler’s junk and sexual prowess, Zohan is an absurdist cartoon. The main character plucks bullets out of the air, ties people into pretzels, hackey sacks a cat, and constantly frustrates his roommate Nick Swardson.

From what I’ve observed, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan is as divisive as cult comedies tend to be. There’s a large camp out there that considers this one of Sandler’s more embarrassing outings, and a smaller — but perhaps more boisterous — group that revels in the weirdness, quotes, action sequences, and infectious dancing.

Is it Sandler’s best? No, but it’s a whole lot more fun than all of the Grown Ups films combined with any of his Netflix specials.

Didja notice?

  • Tug-o-war with a bull
  • Zohan really likes to catch things with his rear
  • “I don’t have a big fancy war that lasted six days!”
  • Israeli-Palestinian politics are best debated during fights
  • Zohan can out-swim a jetski, dolphin-style
  • Piranha in the pants
  • Pelicans are cool with holding your stuff
  • Chris Rock as a taxi driver why not
  • Car surfing is a valid way to get around
  • “Smell it, smell it, smell it… now take it.”
  • You can pee into a litterbox
  • He likes to pretzel people a lot
  • Zohan taking out the dreads
  • “There’s no way to stitch the jugular. All of your blood will be on the floor in four minutes.”
  • “Is good place?” “No, is dump.”
  • Limit one per customer. America is Satan.
  • Getting your hand cut off is no big deal if you can mind control it
  • Push-ups with no hands
  • “Don’t worry, I lose them!” “NOBODY IS FOLLOWING US!”
  • goooooat!
  • Cat hackey sack

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