Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Premise: An Israeli super-spy gives up his career in the army and travels to New York to become a hairdresser. He finds work at a salon run by a Palestinian and tries to hide his identity.
What Works: The film is mercifully short.
What Doesn’t: You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is a horrific comedy and not in a good way. This film is not funny at all. Every joke is lame and can be seen a mile out. Zohan is one of Sandler’s most grotesque creations. Unlike Will Ferrell, who is an expert in creating obnoxious idiots and making the audience love them, Sandler’s approach to this character and others has been to just keep pressing the annoyance buzzer over and over again until the audience leaves the theater or goes along with the joke. That said, he’s no Andy Kaufman; there’s no irony here, just a too-cool-for-school attitude intended to substitute for creativity. What’s worse, the film makes a halfhearted attempt at commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but whenever the film needs a laugh it runs to ethnic humor in the same way that I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry ran to homophobic humor while trying to take a stand for gay rights. Ethnic stereotypes and idiosyncrasies can be funny if they are done with a sense of fun, irony, and self-deprecation but You Don’t Mess with the Zohan just keeps running back to exploiting Middle Eastern jokes that aren’t funny and are totally unoriginal.
Bottom Line: You Don’t Mess With the Zohan is quite possibly Adam Sandler’s worst film, worse than I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,worse than The Waterboy, and it’s likely to be remembered as one of the worst films of 2008.
Episode: #194 (June 22, 2008)