You Don’t Need To Mess With Seeing “The Zohan”

PG-13, 113 minutes, Columbia Pictures

For whatever reason, there still seems to be something intriguing enough about Adam Sandler, something that convinces me to pay for a ticket to see his (mostly) mindless comedies. Maybe I’m still sort of paying respect to the guy, or more accurately, being patient with him because he has shown the ability to branch out and display true acting chops from time to time, most notably in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love. Still, there is no excuse for me continuing to put myself through idiotic messes, like The Waterboy, Little Nicky, Anger Management, etc. Every summer, he releases a comedy that always looks stupid and most of the time follows through with that promise. I thought 2006 would be the last year I would put myself through the hell of trying his dumb projects, at that time I had just come out of the terrible experience of Click, which was mind-bogglingly awful. I did well by not even considering last year’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, a film that I know could be nothing but bad and will never see. Little did I know, it only took one more year to pull me back into the trap of Sandler-itis, for yesterday I indeed went to see You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. I had two fair excuses for choosing to see this film, though – the main one being that Judd Apatow co-wrote it. The movie also got my pick because the competition at the multiplex was extremely slim this weekend.

Apatow worked on the script with Robert Smigel and Sandler himself, filling it with over-the-top bits that I bet had a lot of promise on paper, there’s no doubt, and although it doesn’t fall apart into a complete disaster once it was made into pictures, it’s certainly not a recommendable comedy by any means. That’s a sad thing really, because there are all the components for a guilty pleasure fun time to be had with Zohan, who is a virtually indestructible Israeli agent that is fed up with living the life of endless violence, so decides to fake his death and make his way to the New York City for a new life and a new profession – in hairstyling. The trio of writers do their very best at peppering the film with absolutely insane moments, and some of them work well, but the movie is reaching too far and is way, way too long and easily overstays its welcome. I became very restless toward the end of the film, when over-the-top is taken too far with a hackey sack tournament that features attendees like John McEnroe, Kevin James, and Mariah Carey. To say that this is one of the funniest films Sandler has released in a while, which it is, is still not saying enough to consider it a good film, just better than bad. The performance by Sandler is one of the things in the film to praise, for he is always amping up the energy with Zohan, sticking with the ridiculous tones set in place from the very beginning. I’m not sure if it is even right to applaud an actor for immersing himself in a film and role like this, but Sandler does lose himself entirely in Zohan and he’s the anchor for making the movie even remotely watchable.

Besides have a supporting cast of usuals from Sandler comedies, like John Turturro, the horrific Rob Schneider, Robert Smigel, and others, the film sports a cameo list that reaches a high number. There is a particularly good appearance in the movie by Chris Rock as a Jamaican taxi driver, making his short screen time memorable. Though completely different films, both this and the other movie I saw this weekend, The Happening, have similar focus when it comes to the American paranoia since 9/11. Zohan displays the end of the middle-eastern people’s struggles to get around a terrorist image, and in New York City no-less. It is played in a near slapstick manner of course, at times effectively (not to use this term so much) over-the-top. To watch this film frequently present promise of unique hilarity at times and then fail to do so, was a tragic disappointment, but I guess for it even to approach that level is something to marvel at. I certainly do hope that Apatow and Sandler decide to work together again, maybe on something Apatow himself decides to take on for directing. If they could find the right notes then this could be a good tandem for numerous projects to come…but that remains a big “if”.

6/10

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9 Responses to “You Don’t Need To Mess With Seeing “The Zohan””

  1. Rodger Jacobs Says:

    All I can say is you must be a glutton for punishment.

  2. fiendinacloud Says:

    So would you consider this a “sub-par” film+

  3. Ferguson Says:

    Glutton for punishment? Yeah, at least.

  4. Ferguson Says:

    “Sub-par” puts it best, sure.

  5. Rodger Jacobs Says:

    You could’ve put that dirty box office money back in your pocket and walked over to Barnes and Noble and bought “The Nick Adams Stories” by Ernest Hemingway or a Richmond Fontaine CD but, no, you had to go and give it away to Adam-Fucking-Sandler.

    Adam Sandler.

    Dude.

  6. Elissa Says:

    Did “the horrific Rob Schneider” yell out ‘You can do it’?

    I’m still forever surprised that you actually took time to see this film, but I guess you are less picky than me.

  7. Ferguson Says:

    Rodger – I know, I know. What can I say? I like films, seeing all kinds, and even sometimes I find it in myself to give something I know will most likely be awful a chance. It’s also fun to write thoughts on mediocre or bad films, which I don’t get to all that often because I see mostly ones that look well done.

  8. Ferguson Says:

    Schneider actually didn’t yell out the infamous “You can do it!”, but it didn’t make him any better. The bastard got way too much screen time in this one. I wouldn’t say I’m not picky, I was just in desperate need of a theater visit, and Corey refused to see “The Happening”, which I why I saw that the next nite, all by my lonesome.

  9. patrick Says:

    Adam Sandler is classic in his own way, though he tends to do his best work when he stays casual, not trying too hard to be funny or deep, etc.

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