Making the Grades
For Adam Sandler, there is no subject so politically incorrect that he can't attempt to turn it into a comedy. This time he digs deep into his Jewish heritage and offers his own point of view on the conflict between Israel and Palestine -- but to get to the heartwarming conclusion offered in all his Happy Madison productions, the audience must first navigate through a moral minefield.
Sandler plays Zohan, an unstoppable Israeli counter-terrorist capable of superhuman feats, like catching a flying bullet between his fingers and jumping from tall buildings. He is in high demand from the Israeli military that depends on his incredible abilities to bring down dozens of bad guys. Yet, even with the non-stop accolades, Zohan isn't satisfied. Deep inside there is only one thing he really wants to be -- a hairdresser like the famous Paul Mitchell. And there is only one thing he's afraid of -- confessing his dream to his family and friends.
When his job provides an opportunity to fake his death, Zohan leaves the Middle East and makes his way to New York City determined to find a job at a classy salon. His hopes are quickly subdued however when he discovers the book he has been studying from was penned by the renowned coiffure about two decades earlier. Adjusting his sites, the man with the stale style skills discovers a tiny salon tucked in a row of Palestinian businesses, thanks to some help from a bicycle courier named Michael (Nick Swardson) and Michael's mother. There he meets Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), the shop's owner, who is at first reluctant to let the stranger anywhere near her clients. But this is a typical Sandler movie, so no matter how bizarre or twisted the main character maybe, you can still count on him getting the girl. And, in this case, he gets to mess with a few others besides!
An ongoing source of attempted humor in the film is the particularly predominant bulge between Zohan's legs. Literally the focus of dozens of gags and innuendo, this is also the primary method used to recruit new business for the struggling salon. Employing his manly ways, he seduces Dalia's customers, the majority of whom are elderly women. Leading them into a back room off screen, viewers are privy to hearing the resulting sexual sounds. Similar situations pervade many other scenes. As well, he is seen in a sexual position with Michael's mother (both participants are partially unclothed), and frequently presses himself against people and objects. Plus, there are a few shots providing clear views of Zohan/Sandler's naked body from the rear.
If this hasn't deterred your desire to bring the kids, know that there is a considerable amount of violence too. Although it's all played for laughs, there are depictions of people being tossed from buildings, kicked in the face, and shot at. Racial slurs directed at Arabs, Jews and Caucasians are included, and a derogatory term referring to homosexuals is repeated throughout. With the exception of the Caucasians (who are a group of "red neck" men), the script eventually attempts to show how these actions are hurtful and inaccurate.
As one of the primary authors of the screenplay, Sandler presents what is best described as a schoolboy's perspective on the little world inside his movie. His solution for resolving the prejudice between the Palestinians and the Israelis is as simple as finding a common enemy on their new playground in America (in this case, greedy white guys) and using everyone's natural interest in sex as a political melting pot. If you thought "make love, not war" was an obsolete slogan from days past, you'll find it's been given a new life in You Don't Mess With the Zohan.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about You Don’t Mess With The Zohan.
This movie includes many “politically incorrect” comments directed at ethnic groups and homosexuals. Do you think derogatory comments are justified if presented in a humorous situation?