Don’t Mess with His Hair (You Don't Mess With the Zohan)
Adam Sandler’s cutting comedy
When a trained-to-kill Israeli commando switches
professions and becomes a
In Adam Sandler’s comedy You Don’t Mess With theZohan,
Sandler plays a sex stud from a crack special forces squad who keeps his dream
concealed: he wants to style hair in the flashy salons of the Big Apple. After
faking his own death during a raid on
The socio-political message is embedded in Zohan’s desire
to do something other than kill his enemies. Although he’s good at killing,
he’s tired of all the fighting and just wants to lead a normal life in a
All of this is commendable and could be hilariously funny, except that it’s not. Sandler shows a talent for humorously mimicking the speech of Israelis but relies on his usual grade school joke book for material. There is a moment or two of hilarity, especially when Zohan foot slaps an abusive Wall Street investor, and even a few slivers of drollery when Zohan studies his Small Talk Guide forHairdressers book in off hours.
Mostly, it’s the usual Sandler spree of ribaldry and tasteless visual gags—puking, playing soccer with a cat and, yes, lots of routines around penises and what they are capable of.The socio-political message? Sure, the fighting has to stop. But in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Arab and Israeli cultures and people are caricatured in such shallow, offensive (and yes, once or twice humorous) ways that the stakes in conflict resolution are close to zero. Since the humanity of most characters is in doubt, why not let them fight? In that case there could be a sequel next summer in which Sandler trades his scissors for an Uzi and rejoins the struggle in The Return of the Zohan.