Thursday, June 12, 2008

You Don't Mess With the Zohan

I really want Adam Sandler to do another Punch Drunk Love. He was just so good in that. In the mean time I guess we'll just have to settle for The Zohan. The movie, surprisingly, was not terrible. It was funnier than I was anticipating. I'm not talking about just a chuckle- I actually laughed out loud a few times. The Zohan also has the distinction of possibly being the best movie Rob Schneider has had a major role in (though I realize this isn't saying much).

As is apparent from the trailers, Sandler plays Zohan, an Israeli counter-terrorist. He grows tired of this life and moves to New York to become a hair-stylist. His smooth talking sexy charm brings in hoards of women to the establishment and help spark a romantic relationship with the salon's Palestinian proprietor, Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Sadly, the romantic story line lacks any sort of sparkle, and Dalia never seems more than bored with Zohan's antics. Several other conflicts are included. Zohan is recognized for who he really is, and runs into issues with is enemy- Phantom (John Turturro) who is aided by cab driving Salim (Schneider). Half way through another conflict is introduced. Real Estate mogul Walbridge (Michael Buffer) wants to force out Dalia's salon, and will use any means to accomplish this- including, ironically, terrorism.

This is an interesting movie because it features intentionally overt racism. Nearly every character embodies some sort of Middle Eastern stereotype. From the cab drivers and electronic store owners, to sexual deviants (which I didn't even know was a stereotype). This didn't work as well as is something like Harold and Kumar because the intent here was to laugh at the characters instead of raising questions about the stereotypes. Zohan doesn't raise the social commentary that it could have.

But there are indeed some funny moments, at least to me. And these were the most intentionally racist parts. The Israelis and Palestinians discussing "politics" and Hezbollah help line which states "We will be back operating as soon as the current peace talks break down," were funny and did explore genuine commentary. Other parts such as the ultra flexible feet featured in the trailers and a Rocky styled workout montage belonged more in the parody movie franchises than in a story like this.

I really am of two minds on this movie. As a story, it was sloppy and pretty worthless. But, it did have some pretty funny moments. If you don't like even some of Sandler's better movies (Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison) then you'll probably hate this. If you don't care how poor the story is, and just want to watch him do what he does best- talk in funny accents- then give it a shot.

2/5

1 comment:

patrick said...

Adam Sandler is classic in his own way, though he tends to do his best work when he stays casual, not trying too hard to be funny or deep, etc.