Comedies have never been my thing. Oh sure, when they’re well done you practically need to carry me out of the theatre in an oxygen tent, but far too often they’re mediocre, with a few chuckles sprinkled here and there, and basically not worthy of making the trek to the cinema. Typically, DVD is a far more accommodating medium for the genre. So it’s somewhat of a surprise to say that Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan had me in stitches through most of it – a good sign, because Sandler’s usual style of comedic hijinks have typically been more miss than hit.
Telling the delightfully loopy story of an almost super-human Israeli Mossad agent who stages his death at the hands of Palestinian arch nemesis The Phantom (Turturro) so he can move to New York City and pursue his dream of becoming a hair stylist, Sandler, along with writers Smigel (Saturday Night Live) and Apatow (40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express) have wisely opted to mine the Zucker brothers’ vein of comedy, with the end result being a movie that is chock full of stupidly funny scenes. There’s even a running gag about hummus that’s almost worth the price of admission alone. I should also mention that in addition to the laughs, the movie also comes with some incredible eye-candy in the form of Canadian Emmanuelle Chriqui, who plays Dalia, the stunningly attractive Palestinian hair salon owner who gives Zohan his big break upon his arrival in New York. Consider that to be the sprinkles on an already tasty ice cream.
On paper, I could see the premise of this movie making some producers cringe. And yet it manages to take the touchy topic of the conflict in the Middle East and turn it on its head for some laugh-out-loud moments. Add to that the fact that the movie has its heart in the right place, and this is a comedy that won’t steer you wrong.