In You Don't Mess With The Zohan, Adam Sandler plays Zohan Dvir, a disco dancing Israeli Special Forces soldier, who wants to give up his life of violence and go to New York to become a hairdresser. So the agent fakes his death at the hands of his adversary -- a Palestinian called The Phantom (John Turturro) -- so that he can ride in the cargo hold of a plane going to New York.
When he arrives, he learns that his beloved idol Paul Mitchell, from whose 1980s catalogue he learnt to cut hair, will neither see him nor give him a job. So he decides to work at a salon run by an attractive Palestinian girl named Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui).
That is it. That is the whole setup for the movie. Somewhere along the way, he is recognised by a Palestinian, who has also moved to America, drives a cab and nurses a grudge against Zohan because of an altercation in their past life as cross-border enemies. Will Zohan be able to save himself? Will he get the girl of his dreams?
You really won't care.
In the past, Sandler-starrers have relied on similarly simple premises to catapult the comedian into the A-list of movie star paycheques with plots like a rich young man has to finish school to inherit his family fortune (Billy Madison) or an ice hockey player takes his powerful stroke to the golf course to earn enough money to save his grandmother's home (Happy Gilmore), and so on. But never have any of his stories about a fish out of water been so odiously objectionable as this latest travesty.
In a universe where a goofy-looking dude with recently acquired muscles like Adam Sandler is the leading man, it is not uncommon for visual gags to involve projectile vomiting and over-reliance on references to parts of the male anatomy. Apparently, the director Dennis Dugan (a veteran of other Sandler-centric classics like I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore) and writers Sandler, Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow think stuff like that is funny. As is speaking in bad approximations of Middle Eastern accents, and attempting a ham-handed 'we are all one as long as we work together' wrap up to a collection of scenes that would probably be only truly appreciable as humour if delivered via the 'low production values only' avenues of YouTube or many of the other aspirants to that throne.
Having this travesty thrust upon cinema-going audiences, who spend hard-earned money and endure commutes of varying degrees of difficulty to be faced with the prospect of this? Not good, not fair and definitely not deserved.
It is unclear whom this movie was supposed to appeal to. It clearly was not meant to cater to anyone that was hoping to have a little fun at the movies. There are no redeeming qualities and even the cameos are predictable.
Usual suspects like Kevin James and Rob Schneider make appearances and any remaining Mariah Carey fans be warned -- you are not prepared for what the diva looks like on the big screen.
Watch a play or take a long walk this weekend. Zohan is definitely not a movie I would recommend to anyone. And certainly not a film that deserves any ratings.