[Masthead] Fair ~ 23°F  
High: 47°F ~ Low: 24°F
Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014

Pilot at the Movies

Thursday, June 5, 2008

For all its perceived shock value, all the concern that a comedy about conflict in the Middle East would offend just about everyone imaginable, "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" is really rather conventional and familiar.

At its core, it's just "Romeo and Juliet," wrapped in Adam Sandler's trademark raunchy humor.

Sandler co-produced, co-wrote the script and stars as the titular character, a famous Israeli commando who fakes his own death to escape to the United States and pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a hairdresser. He's a superhuman trained killer but all he wants to do is make people "silky smooth " - one of many lines and jokes that get repeated ad nauseam in this flick, which pushes two hours.

Zohan would have made a perfectly fine character in a recurring "Saturday Night Live" sketch; you could imagine Sandler slipping into him when he got tired of playing Opera Man. As the focus of a full-length film, though, it's a serious stretch.

Once he lands in New York, Zohan wows his older female customers with his sexual prowess (and the hairstyles he copies from his beloved 1987 Paul Mitchell book) but he also finds he's fallen for his boss, Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a sassy salon owner who happens to be Palestinian.

He also must elude a group of Arabs, led by cab driver Salim (old "SNL" buddy Rob Schneider), who want to report Zohan's existence to the revered Palestinian terrorist "The Phantom" (John Turturro) who thought he'd killed him.

Several characters on both sides speak with frustration and sadness about how they wish the fighting would end, making Zohan a bit more complex than "Happy Gilmore" or "The Waterboy."

And with cameos from Mariah Carey, Charlotte Rae, George Takei, Dave Matthews and John McEnroe, it's got to feature the most random cross-section of humanity since "Zoolander."

Sandler worked out for four months with a Navy SEAL to get in shape for the movie, and it shows. He's never exactly been a sex symbol, but he's close to it this once.

Mostly, though, "Zohan" is just plain silly, which is probably what you're looking for when you show up at the multiplex for one of Sandler's summer comedies.

* "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," opening this week at the Vista III in Storm Lake, is rated PG-13 for crude content, language and nudity. Run time: 113 minutes. Score: Two stars out of four