Silky Smooth

8 Jun

It’s not meant as damning with faint praise to say You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is Adam Sandler’s best comedy in many years.

(His best movie, of course, was Reign Over Me.)

In fact, surprisingly enough, it’s the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time.

How funny is it? Well, let’s just say Mariah Carey makes a cameo and even she is funny.

Sandler stars as Zohan, Israel’s premier counter-terrorism commando. He’s loved by the ladies, he’s an expert at martial arts and gun play, he’s skilled with a hackey sack, and he’s legendary.

But all Zohan wants to do is go to America and become a hair stylist like his idol, Paul Mitchell — even if people think that makes him a “faygela.”

So he fakes his own death and goes across the ocean, where, what do you know, he gets a job at a salon owned by a Palestinian. And not just any Palestinian, but one played by the smoking hot Emmanuelle Chriqui.

Will the Israeli and the Palestinian come together to make “bang boom?” Will the eternal conflict between these two nationalities really be solved by Dave Matthews?

Well, is this an Adam Sandler movie? (Yes.) So what do you think?

If you have an appreciation for Israeli culture, you’ll especially enjoy Zohan, with its continuous hummus jokes and other stereotypical references.

But I suspect most folks will enjoy the film whether they get the cultural references or not.

The script — by Sandler, Judd Apatow, and Robert Smigel — is smart and affectionate rather than offensive, and Sandler gives a grown-up comedic performance that’s actually quite good.

Sandler’s usual cohorts (Rob Schneider, John Turturro, Henry Winkler, etc.) are all along for the ride, but there’s none of the usual schtick. Instead, they work within the confines of the plot to make a fun ensemble, and don’t stick out as gimmick casting.

Sure, the movie would have benefitted from a 5-minute pruning, which would have made it a bit tighter, but I didn’t feel like Zohan was frustratingly long either.

I’m not going to say Zohan is a classic comedy; I suspect it won’t hold up so well on repeated viewings. But for what it is, it’s very funny.

I’m giving Zohan a B+.

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