Review: You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

2008-08-03 00:00

You don’t … need to see this

You Don’t ... is the work of comedy heavyweights Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler, who have made their names in sex- and fart-obsessed, male-oriented comedy of various gradations of dumbness.

This latest effort is no exception, but it also tries for political commentary on the Middle East.

To paraphrase Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, this movie seems to be saying, “You know, put two Middle Easterners next to each other, and all I’m saying is, I can’t tell the difference.”

Like Family Guy, You Don’t … tries to be critical through sophomoric humour. It doesn’t always work, though. Zohan (Sandler) is a hummus-loving Israeli counter-terrorist with near Messianic skills who is also an excellent cook and irresistible to the ladies. But deep down, all he wants to be is a hairstylist. His bible is a Paul Mitchell catalogue from the 80s, it being part of the joke that Israelis are somewhat behind in pop culture (also attested to by their adulation of Mariah Carey).

So when the chance comes for Zohan to fake his own death, he seizes it and follows his dream to New York. He is laughed out of the Paul Mitchell salon, so he goes to work for Dalia, a pretty salon owner on the Palestinian side of the street. He rakes in customers for her with his hairdressing skills and absolute lack of sexual inhibition. But of course he can’t escape his past, or the conflicts between his people and Dalia’s. It turns out, though, that the real enemy is, naturally, white corporate America, without which all people would be free, which, the movie suggests, is being free to make money, though I suspect it didn’t quite mean to put this across. A nice surprise is Rob Schneider who, as a taxi cab driver, is funny for a change.

You Don’t... is mostly mildly offensive, not in its low humour so much as its dullness. The problem is that it tries to be too many things at once — gross-out comedy, sexual taboo buster and political commentary — and relies on broad, quick jokes and over-the-top CGI stunts. There are some subtle jokes, but they went over the heads of the Saturday afternoon audience, who were too bored to notice them. At least, that’s what I assume, because I can’t think why else you would pay R20-odd for a movie so you can sit and talk the whole way through.


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