2008-06-27 / Entertainment/Lifestyles


'Don't Mess With The Zohan' - Sandler's Assassin Shampoo
Review By Robert Snyder

Adam Sandler may have found the secret to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Comedy.

His new one, "Don't Mess With the Zohan," is so offensively in-your-face that it bulldozes through any political correctness in dealing with the touchy Middle East issue.

As Zohan, Sandler plays a superhero Israeli counter-terriorist commandoassassin, who would rather be an American hairdresser than catch bullets with his nostrils fighting Palestinians. He's a bizarre mix of Eric Bana in "Munich" and Warren Beatty in "Shampoo." For a while, it works.

After a slam-bang action opening, Zohan fakes his death at the hands of his rival, the Phantom (John Turturro). He hops a flight to Manhattan in the plane's pet compartment, sharing it with dogs, Scrappy and Coco, whose names he adopts as his alias.

On arrival, "Scrappy-Coco" makes a beeline to the famed Paul Mitchell Hair Salon, where he demands audience with Mr. Mitchell himself. Considered a joke in this salon and a number of others, our hero finally submits to picking up cut hair at one run by beautiful Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who happens to be a Palestinian-American. Finally permitted to style hair, Scrappy-Coco is a huge success with the elderly ladies, thanks to his sexually-charged hairdressing technique, not to mention the actual fornication he provides.

Love blooms between Dalia and Zohan, along with the realization that in the American melting pot, ethnic differences die in the face of l'amour, money and most everything else.

However, ancient hostilities are still stewing as the Phantom has opened a food franchise in the U.S. and Palestinian goat herder, now N.Y.C. cabbie Salim (Rob Schneider), has identified Scrappy-Coco as the enemy, Zohan, from Middle East days. But the real baddies behind the scene are corporate bigwigs intent on fueling old feuds to clean out the Arab and Israeli storeowners and start a mall.

"Don't Mess With Zohan" is near great for the first hour, before the characters begin gagging on their gags. How many jokes can we take about hummus, Hacky Sack or Zohan's crotch. Even the multiple cameos (Mariah Carey, Chris Rock, John McEnroe) can't hold up the ultimately see-through storyline.

While the give-peace-a-chance theme is righteous, co-producer/cowriter/ star Sandler should give us a break before it becomes banal.

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