Adam Sandler clearly has some awfully good intentions in making this movie; what we wind up with is, unfortunately, just awful.
Zohan is an Israeli Mossad agent, fed up with all the fighting already. So, faking his death, he takes off for New York, hoping to cash in on his dream; to snip the ladies’ hair and make smooth and silky. Filmed on an Israeli beach, the opening scenes are a travelogue that is clearly designed to sell tourists tickets. So why ruin the gorgeous scenery with repetitive shots of Sandler’s soft tush and its unique talent for catching fish? And, while it is admirable Adam brings along his coterie of players from picture to picture, what he does with them isn’t much more flattering than that flabby behind. The often funny John Turturro is reduced to mugging as an Arab bad guy, who, we find out has more in common with his arch enemy than he ever knew. Indeed, the entire “message” of this picture, that, under the right circumstances (in this case the multicultural lower East Side and lots of hummos), long standing rival ethnicities can get along, is sweet. So why dumb it down with endless and tasteless sex jokes? What is particularly sad is the mixed opportunity served up to veterans Lainie Kazan, Charlotte Rae, Shelley Berman and Henry Winkler. It’s great to see them getting work, but what they have to do is grotesque.
Sandler has proven to be an ambitious, charismatic leading man, but his charm here wears very thin, very quick. While I understand that a mainstream comedy promoting an end to a two thousand year old conflict needs to lighten it up along the way in order to remain saleable, the alleged funny stuff in this movie just isn’t funny at all.