You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008)
My Rating : ***.5
Dennis Dugan (BIG DADDY, HAPPY GILMORE) directs this comedy co-written by Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, and Robert Smigel. Disco- and hummus-loving Zohan (Sandler) is the Israeli army’s best weapon. He can single-handedly take out terrorists and swim like a dolphin, and still find time to charm the ladies. But this lethal weapon is tired of fighting Palestinian terrorists like the Phantom (John Turturro).
He has bigger dreams: he wants to cut and style hair. Unfortunately, once Zohan arrives in New York City with a new look straight out of the 1980s and an assumed identity after faking his own death, his lack of experience gets him laughed out of salon after salon. Finally, Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a Palestinian salon owner, gives him a shot, and the older patrons love him. But just as Zohan is hitting his stride, Salim, a Palestinian New York City cabbie (Rob Schneider) recognizes him, and suddenly the Zohan’s dream is in jeopardy. To confuse matters more, there is a Trump-like developer (Michael Buffer) who is trying to clear out the Manhattan neighborhood where Israelis and Palestinians peacefully coexist in order to build a mall. A bulked-up Sandler is amusing as Zohan, and this is Schneider’s best performance in years. Despite the extreme stereotyping, there is an underlying message about the futility of war and fact that people really are, after all, just people. The film is peppered with brief appearances from a menagerie of celebrities, including Chris Rock, Dave Matthews, Charlotte Rae, Kevin James, John McEnroe, Mariah Carey, George Takei, and Bruce Vilanch. Lainie Kazan and Nick Swardson also star in this film as a mother and son who befriend the new immigrant.