a critiQal film review You Don’t Mess With the Zohan (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Zohan (Sandler), an Israeli commando, fakes his own death so he can pursue his dream of becoming a hairstylist in New York.

725 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 37s)

After lighting up the box office with the touching and hilarious a few years ago, Adam Sandler came back to the big screen this summer to team-up with new comedy writer star Judd Apatow for You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Since the premise looked so idiotic, we decided to skip this one in theaters and wait for the DVD.

Now that the film has arrived on DVD, we broke down and decided to rent it. Would the “dream team” of Sandler & Apatow make for the funniest non-animated film of the summer, or would You Don’t Mess With The Zohan be Sandler’s worst movie to date?

Sandler is a bit disappointing throughout his scenes in You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. As he does his best to make a complete fool out of himself in each and every scene, the viewer can only shake their head in sadness.

After turning in good performances in films like , viewers may have thought the brainless persona Sandler portrayed in films like Billy Madison was gone for good. Instead, viewers are subjected to the most brainless character Sandler has ever portrayed on-screen.

Zohan’s every move seems to be designed to show what a complete moron this guy is – not to mention promoting almost every anti-Israeli slur in the book. Supposedly designed to make the audience guffah with laughter, Zohan instead will garner increasing pity from the audience, as his every exaggerated move will have the audience wondering how Sandler could have fallen so far so fast.

John Turturro’s The Phantom, like Sandler, deserves more pity than anything else. His character is so pathetic that viewers will wonder just how bad the rest of Apatow’s Israeli army is if they have to rely on Zohan to take this guy out. Rather than actually being evil, Turturro’s Phantom is more annoying than anything else -so annoying, in fact, that viewers will long for the whiny annoyance of Turturro’s Quiz Show character to re-emerge.

Usually in an Adam Sandler film, it’s obvious he’s doing his best to help his non-talented friends like Rob Schneider and Kevin Nealon keep working by casting them in his films. In You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, the lead performances are so bad that Schneider and Nealon aren’t actually low points in the film. Even Michael “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” Buffer – in one of his first roles that doesn’t involve him invoking his trademark phrase – doesn’t stand out as inexperienced or inept in any way compared to the rest of the cast.

The plot has got to be one of the worst ideas to come down the film pipeline in quite a while: an elite, sex-addicted, Israeli commando fakes his own death to move to New York to become a hairstylist. Once in New York he combines his sexual addiction with his dream of cutting hair and becomes a huge hit. But, unsurpisingly, his nemesis has taken the credit for killing him, and he must right that error.

Have films really gotten this desperate for ideas? Seriously? While there are already too many sequels and remakes in Hollywood, if this is the alternative, give us more sequels and remakes! While Apatow isn’t exactly known for his conventional storylines, this idea has got to be his worst yet. Who ever thought this premise would be funny?

But even a bad plot can be saved a bit by some decent directing, right? Not this one – not that director Dennis Dugan even tries. Completely ignoring the illegal aspects of the haircut brothel, the film jumps to a unbelievable love affair, in-fighting, ridiculous stunts, lots of sex for no reason and crude, low-brow humor that ends up involving not only Sandler and Turturro, but the rest of the cast and a guest appearance by Mariah Carey into a film that make Carey’s bomb Glitter look good in comparison.

With failed attempts at humor flying at the viewer left and right, and an idiotic storyling and some truly bad acting, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan is one of the worst mmovies we’ve seen all year – and that includes .

If you are looking for a Sandler fix, avoid Zohan at all costs unless you’re a glutton for punishment. Instead, rewatch , The Wedding Singer or – or hold out until hits theaters on Christmas Day.

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