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Mabrouk El Mechri
Jean-Claude Van Damme,
Zohan Dvir works as a Special Agent and lives with his orthodox parents in Israel. He wants to give up this life full of dangerous encounters with Palestinians. While in the process of apprehending a Palestinian activist known simply as the Phantom, he fakes his death, hides in a dog-kennel on a plane bound for New York, and decides to try his hand as a hair-stylist. He is refused employment initially, but when he offers to work for free, Dahlia hires him as a cleaner. When a hair-stylist named Debbie quits, Zohan replaces her, winning over elderly female clientèle, and falling in love with Dahlia herself. Before Zohan could propose to her, Dahlia's landlord, Walbridge, who has been raising rents regularly, hires skinhead goons to terrorize the neighborhood, creates misunderstandings between Jews, Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians, and drives them out, so as to enable him to construct a new building which is topped by a roller coaster. When Zohan decides to confront these skinheads, he... Written by
The opening scene on a Tel-Aviv beach strongly references the film Peeping Toms (1973) starring Uri Zohar, Israel's "bad boy" of the '60s and early '70s, who later became an orthodox rabbi. Zohan looks just like Zohar, including hairstyle and wardrobe. See more »
The headband of the Phantom has the word Phantom written on it in Arabic. In the early scenes, the letters are not connected, whereas later on they are. (All Arabic words when written are connected - if not it is just a collection of letters that mean nothing.) See more »
Silly crude nonsense that is funny if you are in the mood
Zohan Dvir is a legendary Mossad agent known for his unique skills and indestructible nature but, unlike his current violent job, Zohan's dream is to become a hairdresser and bless the world with the gift of silky-soft and styled hair. He seems destined to never know this dream though, until he decides to fake his own death during a battle with Palestinian freedom fighter/terrorist The Phantom. One smuggled flight later, Zohan arrives in New York to take up a position at the salon of Paul Mitchell but finds that he cannot just walk into this world of styling and washing. Refusing to work in an electric store, Zohan finds work as a cleaner in a small salon run by a Palestinian woman, where he waits his chance to prove his skills.
The unusual title and setting for the characters were enough to make me forget that, ultimately, what I was about to watch was nothing more than an Adam Sandler comedy. You see, mostly, when you come to a Sandler comedy you know what you are going to get and have a feel for whether or not it is your type of thing. Now the quality of his films may vary but generally what he does and how he does it in most films is pretty constant. However, Mossad agents who wish to pursue a dream of hairdressing in the US is not one of his usual themes and somehow I thought this might be more than just an Adam Sandler comedy as I have experienced them in the past.
The film itself didn't allow me to sit in this misconception for very long as from the very start we find ourselves with physical comedy and jokes reliant totally on body parts and sex organs. This continues with ongoing humour drawn from a young man having intercourse with elderly women on a frighteningly regular basis. Of course if I still hadn't worked it out, then what really reminds me where I am is that the entire film is silly beyond belief but yet also still finds time for a stunning young woman to fall for the main character no matter how arrogant/stupid/unlikable he is - a persistent thread in Sandler films. So, knowing what you are getting into is important but, once there, what does Zohan do for the casual viewer - ie not the audience member who puts Sandler as #1 on the list of all time comedians but rather someone who sees him as, at best, a man who can turn his juvenile comedy into a guilty pleasure. Well, Zohan is not really that funny a film but it just about has enough wild humour and creativity to it to make it quite fun. I was not laughing out loud that often but it did have plenty of amusing moments that made me not hate it - which was a possibility. What helps it is that it throws itself totally into how nonsensical it all is and never really attempts to step away from it, thus maintaining the tone that is knowingly silly and makes it possible for the audience to accept this and not unfairly expect anything more.
Of course this does not make it brilliant by any means and the film is still only silly fun and not a hilarious comedy that is accessible to all. Sandler himself throws himself into his role and his accent even if he still has the same crude material as ever. The fact that he makes fun of the Israel/Palestine situation is a move that gives his material a "different" feel but it is essentially a different doorway to the same material. He plays up the silly aspect but of more help is a wonderfully daft Turturro, Schneider and others, who get easy laughs without the need to progress plot. As she did in "In The Mix", Chriqui concentrates on being light and sexy not that easy with her accent but she does her basic requirement.
Zohan looks like it will be a daring and imaginative comedy but, beyond the basic design of the film the material is pretty much what you would expect from an Adam Sandler film in so much as it is crude, silly and aimed at a teenage market. It is silly and if you are in the mode it is quite fun but if you are looking for anything more than that then you'll be disappointed. An usual Adam Sandler film, but still very much an Adam Sandler film.
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