“Don’t Mess With The Zohan” – Susan Granger reviews

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Adam Sandler ventures into political satire with this new comedy, playing an Israeli hit man who flees to the United States to become a hairdresser. But in his New York neighborhood, he discovers that Arab and Israeli immigrants are carrying their Middle East tension as excess baggage when they’re forced to cope with a far greater adversary.

A legendary Mossad commando, Dvir Zohan (Sandler) fakes his own death at the hands of his arch-enemy, the Palestinian Phantom (John Turturro), in order to begin a new life. With a Paul Mitchell stylebook under his arm, he attempts, unsuccessfully, to infiltrate high-end Manhattan hair salons. Yet with the help of new friends (Lainie Kazan, Nick Swardson) and vast quantities of hummus, Zohan manages to reinvent himself as swaggering “Scrappy Coco” and land a position at a run-down salon in Brooklyn, working for a beautiful Palestinian (Emmanuelle Chriqui) while shagging a clientele of older women – until his cover is cracked by a Palestinian cabbie (Rob Schneider).

Written with customary crudeness by Sandler, Robert Smigel and Judd Apatow and directed by Dennis Dugan, the story, which deals with the cycle of Middle Eastern violence, tries not to take sides. But when three wannabe Arab terrorists phone the “Hazbollah Hot Line” for bomb-making instructions, they’re told the information is “not currently available during peace talks with Israel” and to call back “as soon as the negotiations break down.” Amid bits by Mariah Carey, Henry Winkler, Chris Rock and George Takei, the villains are Mel Gibson-loving racists hired by a Trump-like real-estate developer.

On the Granger Movie Gauge, “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” is a silky smooth, subversively silly 7, making the genial moral that Israelis and Arabs are more alike than dissimilar.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.