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You Don't Mess with the Zohan
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?