You Don't Mess With the Zohan (2008)

Adam Sandler as Zohan in You Don't Mess With the Zohan

Sandler's Zohan is not Silky Smooth

On the DVD cover of "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" it says "Sandler's best in ages" and in some ways I agree as it is a lot better than many of Adam Sandler's recent movies, it's just not a patch on most of Sandler's earlier movies. Gone is Sandler's preference for creating laughs through shouting and instead he replaces it with a fascination for his own crotch area, yes "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" relies heavily on sexual humour, in fact it relies too heavily on it as it becomes tiresomely repetitive and unfunny by the time you get to the end of the movie and at 1hr 48 mins long it is painful.

Zohan (Adam Sandler - I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry) is the top counter terrorist in the Israeli Army, except he is fed up of all the fighting and escapes to America to follow his dream of becoming a hair stylist. Taking on the alias of Scrappy Coco he finds himself a job in a Palestinian hairdressers where he goes from floor sweeper to stylist in a matter of days offering his customers extra satisfaction as well as a haircut. But when a Palestinian cab driver recognizes Scrappy things go from silky smooth to wildly and unruly especially when his nemesis the Phantom (John Turturro - Transformers) heads to America to settle an old score.

Rob Schneider as Salim in You Don't Mess With the Zohan

Right from the start "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" sets its mark with the opening camera shot focusing on Sandler's crotch area and ending with him cooking butt naked. To me this sort of humour is as basic as it can get and unfortunately it is the preferred choice through out the movie. It wouldn't be so bad if it had been used sparingly but unfortunately I would say that for the first 3 quarters of "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" nearly every gag revolves around crotch and sex jokes. What this ends up doing is making any resemblance of a plotline, which in itself is remarkably thin, unimportant and a vehicle for a series of jokes. It really isn't until the final quarter of the movie that the crotch gags are scratched and an actual story takes over, although by this point I was struggling to keep an interest in what was going on.

What does appear to have happened is that Adam Sandler has taken a leaf out of Sacha Baron Cohen's book and created a character which is as politically incorrect as Borat. There is a common theme running through out "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" which satirizes many areas of Middle Eastern culture as well as anything else that appears to be an easy target such as whether or not the wives of politicians are "bang-able". The trouble is most of this is neither clever and rarely funny especially as many of the gags are used more than once in the same way that the crotch gags are over used.

In fairness there are some jokes which work in "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" and will make you chuckle but these are few and far between especially when many of the jokes are plainly unfunny. Maybe I am wrong but when has playing hacky sack with a cat been the remotest bit funny?

There is one positive to be found in all this poor humour, Sandler has dispatched his petulant kid ego and obviously works hard at trying to make "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" different to his other movies. In fact he may be trying too hard as it is the onslaught of gags which actually spoils it, where allowing the plotline, no matter how thin, to take control would have made it a lot more entertaining. Even allowing the other characters such as the adorable Emmanuelle Chriqui, who plays Dahlia the owner of the hairdressers, more screen time would have helped to stop this feeling a monotonous onslaught of Sandler's crotch.

What is distinctly obvious is that "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" has a target audience which as a thinking adult I don't fit in to. It will appeal to those who are still young enough to find crotch and sex jokes hugely entertaining even if there is no real storyline to tie them all together.

What this all boils down to is that whilst a pleasant change to many of Sandler's more recent movies "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" is still not the fun comedy which you could rely on him to make. The thin plot isn't really the issue but the fact that the driving force of this movie seems to be Sandler's crotch with the majority of the jokes revolving around it. It means it becomes repetitive to the point of being painful and whilst I am sure younger audiences will find Sandler's crotch amusing those who remember how enjoyable Sandler's earlier movies were will most likely be disappointed.