Adam Sandler's new movie is a pretty good scattershot comedy with counterterrorism as its backdrop.
As high concepts go, "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" takes the cake: Adam Sandler plays an Israeli commando who pursues his dream of becoming a hairstylist in New York. Could the film possibly be as funny as its trailer?
Not exactly. "Zohan" coasts on its premise far more often than it fulfills it. But these days, you take your laughs where you find them. It's a pretty good scattershot comedy.
Sandler came up with the idea of the Zohan character and then, with his co-writers Robert Smigel and the omnipresent Judd Apatow, worked it up into what amounts to a glorified "Saturday Night Live" sketch stretched to almost two hours. (Question: Why are current comedies so much longer than they need to be? "Sex and the City" was almost 2-1/2 hours!)
Zohan Dvir, Israel's most famous counterterrorist resembles a hairy, bizarro cross between James Bond, Spider-Man, Borat, and Brad Pitt. When called upon to eliminate his nemesis, the bling-festooned Palestinian terrorist Phantom (a hilarious John Turturro), he uses the occasion to fake his own death. Stowing away on a plane bound for the promised land of Manhattan, he clutches his bible – his hallowed 1987 Paul Mitchell style book.
Zohan wants to make the world "silky smooth" but his stylings are so outdated that he can only find work in a salon catering to old ladies. Its owner is the beautiful Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a Palestinian who doesn't quite buy Zohan's cover story about being Australian. For one thing, he loves hummus too much. (This movie finds more uses for hummus than you can possibly imagine, some of them unprintable, all of them funny.)