Directed by Dennis Dugan
Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler) is an Israeli soldier, the best of the best, who is tired of all the violence and killing and, after faking his death, escapes to New York City to become a hairstylist but his past is close behind when his arch nemesis The Phantom learns he is still alive.
This movie is a ridiculously entertaining action film parody. I purchased this gem on the cheap and was pleasantly surprised. Sandler does a great job here affectionately mocking the action hero genre. Zohan is the best of the best and the one that they always turn to in order to get the job done. As usual for the action film he is ridiculously good and ludicrously macho as well as absurdly talented. It is reminiscent of the 80s and early 90s characters that were one-man armies that could mercilessly take out any foe yet still had bizarrely deep and sophisticated aspects. These were attempts to make them human or give them depth but came off as odd placed next to snapping necks and spraying bullets.
Upon arriving in New York City to realize his dream of working for Paul Mitchell, one the first people he encounters is Michael Klayman (Nick Swardson). His character must deal with the physical relationship between Adam Sandler and his mother Gail (Lainie Kazan). The moments are hilariously awkward. Swardson’s reactions and line delivery are hysterical.
Expectedly for the genre which the film parodies, Zohan falls for a young woman Dalia Hakbarah (Emmanuelle Chriqui) he meets who also happens to be his boss after he finally manages to get a hairdressing job with her through why amounts to dumb luck. His haircutting abilities and his sexual ability with customers brings them in by the hundreds and saves this salon that was on the brink of failure.
Kevin James, Kevin Nealon, Chris Rock, John McEnroe among others have cameos in this movie. One of the most surprising cameos though is Charlotte Rae as one of Zohan’s (now calling himself Scrappy Coco after two dogs he encountered in a plane he stowed away on) customers. Edna freaking Garrett! This is not the type of film or material I would have ever expected the late actress to associate herself with.
The main portion of the plot is that shady land developer Grant Walbridge (Michael Buffer) is trying to buy up the neighborhood where the salon that Zohan now works at is and turn it into a shopping mall to complement a recently built hotel. That guy is entertaining as a ridiculous villain. I am not sure if he has done any other acting, but he was very good here as were all of his hench people.
John Turturro is Zohan’s a longtime nemesis Fatoush “Phantom” Hakbarah. Like Zohan, he too has a dream of being something other than what he became (in this case selling shoes) but like Zohan was forced to remain in the IDF, the Phantom is forced into his life of terrorism. In fact, most of the bad guy characters would rather be doing almost anything else.
This film stars the usual grouping of Sandler film alumni and one or two that I do not recall seeing in a Sandler film before. Robert Smigel as Yosi is the one that really jumps out. If I had not known who he was before watching this film I would not have known that it was him. He is probably best known for his creation of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog as well as being the creative mind behind several SNL shorts.
This film is a great job of lovingly poking fun at the action genre. This is especially true when it comes to the fighting skills of Zohan. Action film characters often do flying kicks or spin kicks and this is no different but the ridiculous aspect is that Zohan is somehow able to kick with both feet at the same time and still remain upright. And he is ridiculously effective at taking on his foes.
This is a silly film that happens to also have some entertaining action sequences too. How it accomplishes that I do not know. The fighting is extremely well choreographed.
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is a fun and diverting comedy that will entertain you and all it asks for is you to not think too hard. Watch it and enjoy.