YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN (Dennis Dugan). 113 minutes. Opens Friday (June 6). For venues and times, see Movies, page 96. Rating: NNN
Adam Sandler lands somewhere between Spielberg’s Munich and the Barbershop series in You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, a raunchy farce about a Mossad-agent-turned-hairstylist that shouldn’t work as often or as well as it does.
Sandler stars as the titular Israeli commando, who can catch bullets with his teeth and hacky sacks between his ass cheeks. Fed up with the never-ending war in the Middle East, Zohan flees to New York in pursuit of his dream of becoming a chi-chi retro hairdresser.
Sandler plays Zohan as a sort of primitive ape-man with limbs that extend beyond human limits. His crotch gyrates for the geriatric women in his salon chair – right before he goes all Deuce Bigalow on them. Such physical comedy is hit-and-miss; it’s never original, but Sandler invests it with the kind of zeal that provokes shits and giggles.
The real fun comes from the movie’s ballsy equal-opportunity jabs at hummus-obsessed Israelis and terror-bent Palestinian cab drivers. The serious-minded should steer clear, since Zohan’s airy and problematic take on Arab-Israeli politics is guaranteed to be controversial. However, the racial caricatures are drawn with slightly more dimensions than one might expect from a Sandler project, courtesy of a screenplay co-written by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up).
Zohan is infantile and offensive, but sometimes that’s all you need for a good laugh.