Don’t let the pedigree fool you. Even though critical darling Judd Apatow receives a writing credit, he hasn’t put pen to paper for You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (113 minutes) since 2000. Unfortunately for the viewing audience, Apatow’s absence left Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel to muddle through material that was just a tad out of their reach. Neither man is noted for subtly or sensitivity. The idea is funny enough, and maybe eight years ago when Sandler and company first began working on it, he could have pulled it off.             However, watching Sandler limp through this material with his scary dead eyes, massive codpiece, and tired expression is next to painful. Sure, it’s an amusing concept for a Saturday Night Live sketch, but the laughs are few and far between, and the joke wears thin before the movie is even half over. Die hard Sandler fans will love it, but everyone else should consider themselves fairly warned. {mosimage}
    Zohan (Adam Sandler) is living the good life on an Israeli beach, hacky-sacking and discoing, until the Israeli army comes to claim him for a special mission. He heads out to capture a Palestinian terrorist (John Turturro, and what was he thinking?). During the ensuing Matrix-inspired slugfest, Zohan quits it all to go on the lam in New York, where he will fulfill his lifelong dream of cutting and styling hair.
    Bored yet? At this point, I sure was. As Zohan struggles to find his styling niche, he has relations with many older women, including Gail (Lainie Kazan). It is about this time that Zohan meets his true love, Dhalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a sweet window ornament who doesn’t get a lot to do in the movie beyond looking gorgeous. Did I mention the revoltingly simplistic subplot about the evil developer who wants to destroy the neighborhood in favor of big business? It’s like the writers saw Be Kind, Rewind and thought padding out their bad movie with some bits and pieces of an original movie would help somehow.
    Amidst all this unremarkable dreck enters Rob Schneider, playing a Palestinian cab driver named Salim, and Mariah Carey playing an aging, botoxed, self-centered singer named Mariah Carey. 
    If you want to see a movie that intelligently uses racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes to make a political statement, go see Borat or Blazing Saddles. Do not look to Zohan for sly political quips — every joke in the movie is just malicious and mean spirited. The entire script is homophobic, (and, after seeing Chuck and Larry, one supposes that Sandler is as well). Women are objectified, mocked, and as much as I love to think that Mrs. Garret (Charlotte Rae from Facts of Life in a cameo) is still out there, the slaps she delivers to Zohan after the midway point were well deserved. The character of Zohan, and many of the bit players are walking talking stereotypes…and nobody is laughing.
    P.S.  If you are looking for clear signs of the Apocalypse, the trailer for Beverly Hills Chihuahua is attached to Zohan.   

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