You Don't Mess with the Zohan

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
You Don't Mess with the Zohan Movie Poster Image
Lots of lewd Sandler stuff, but also some laughs.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 36 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 50 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No group is spared from the movie's mockery, including the elderly, homosexuals, racists, and more. Despite this, you could argue that the movie actually promotes a message of peace and understanding among warring nations -- and there's even a secondary message of love crossing barriers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Zohan is a killer by trade, and he's pretty good at it. He shows no compunction about hurting other people (though he does profess later to being tired of it). He also lies to family and friends about his whereabouts and to his new American acquaintances about his identity.

Violence

Lots, but it's quite cartoonish and generally played for laughs. For example, Zohan can jump from rooftops and land on enemies without getting hurt, he gets shot at without getting hit because he stops bullets with his bare hands, and he can successfully battle loads of gun-equipped assassins. Other characters brandish weapons and missiles, and there's a fair amount of kicking and tossing people around. In one scene, someone cuts off Zohan's hand, which he then uses to kill his tormentor.

Sex

Plentiful, and plenty crass. The film begins with lots of cleavage (and has plenty more throughout), punctuated immediately by a close-up of Sandler's naked backside (which viewers see again later). Incessant sexual jokes, suggestions of Zohan bedding all sorts of women as part of the "hairdressing experience." Sex scenes include some group activities. Lots of lewd references to body parts, sexual activity, etc. A woman's naked backside is visible in one scene in which intercourse is implied. Zohan gives his clients "happy endings."

Language

Language includes "goddamn," "s--t," "jackass," "screw," and more.

Consumerism

Signage everywhere, from Zohan's favorite fizzy soda to Phantom's fast food restaurants. Also, clear logos/signs for movers, stores, malls, and the venerable Paul Mitchell hair salon.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking, primarily at the beach parties Zohan hosts in the beginning of the movie.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that You Don't Mess with the Zohan is a classic Adam Sandler movie: Crude, impolitic, and riddled with sexual jokes, swearing, and offhand nudity (including a couple of shots of Sandler's bare butt). For exactly those reasons, it's very likely to attract his usual fan base, many of whom are teens. The film pokes fun at everything and everyone -- the elderly, political assassins, homosexuals, cabdrivers, racists, hairdressers, women with breast implants -- and often teeters on the line between funny and downright insulting. But, believe it or not, it's all in the name of the heartwarming (if cliched) message that love -- and, for that matter, personal goals -- triumphs over war and politics.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTwilight September 8, 2009

Funny Movie, Too many Sex Jokes.

Funny Movie. Way Way Way too many Off color jokes though. It got to the point where it started to become uncomfortable watching it with others. He's con... Continue reading
Adult Written byGolan Trevize October 28, 2011

best for jews

My teeenagers' white-bread American friends all love this movie, but as a Conservative Jew and a staunch supporter of Israel, there are many references tha... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 9, 2010

18 and up should be the only ones watching this.

I watched this a few years ago with my family. We had to turn it off !! It was SO innappropriate and disgusting ! I don't remember much of it but even with... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJosh Lambert October 3, 2010

Stupid and kinda innapropriate

I meen there is some sexual references, content, and of course nudity. But overall the film is a hard, solid PG-13 MOVIE. I saw the unrated version (i DONT RE... Continue reading

What's the story?

In YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN, Adam Sandler takes on Arab-Jewish relations -- for real -- by playing Zohan, an Israeli super spy who's tired of the usual assassin-foiling that his job entails. ("Super spy" actually barely covers it: He can somersault off buildings, stop bullets in their tracks, and bed women -- all at the same time.) Instead of wielding machine guns, he'd rather brandish scissors and become the world's best hairstylist. A battle with his nemesis, Phantom Muchentuchen (an amusing John Turturro), gives him an opening and he bolts, leaving everyone back home thinking he's dead. A new world awaits in New York City, but Zohan's no superstar here. The high-end salons all think he's a joke, so his only option is to apprentice at a Palestinian store -- which gives Zohan pause. But nothing will stop him from making his dream come true; he sets politics aside and becomes a runaway success. But eventually his cover is blown -- plus, a real estate developer is threatening to close the salon. How will Zohan prevail?

Is it any good?

That Sandler's crass humor -- aided by Judd Apatow, who co-wrote the script -- could be paired with issues like world politics and gentrification is improbable, but at some level, it works.

Yes, the first half of the movie is cringe-worthy, with leaden jokes and sodden, distasteful stereotypes. The hummus punchlines, the crotch-thrusting, and the references to Zohan's enormous "package" get old quick. But some quips, particularly later in the movie, are so brazen that you have to laugh. (Retirees being serviced by an over-coiffed Zohan, who always gives his customers "happy endings"? Priceless.) By the time Phantom and Zohan face off again, you'll have been beaten into submission. And you'll be laughing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Sandler's brand of crude humor. Clearly, the film is using exaggeration for comic effect, but do they cross the line? If so, when, and who defines what "the line" is in the first place?

  • Do you think Sandler needs to rely on stereotypes to arrive at his message about transcending differences in the name of happiness?

  • Does the crude humor take away from the movie or help it succeed?

Movie details

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