Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: front right
Attendance: about 30
Weather: light rain
Food: candy from Freak Lunchbox, Full Throttle
Met?: somewhat exceeded
Pre-show ads: McDonald’s, Toyota, Nestle Vitao
Trailers: The Love Guru, Hamlet 2, Hancock, Stepbrothers. A Steve Coogan movie in my local cinema? That would be awesome.
You Don’t Mess With The Zohan is the first Adam Sandler movie I have seen in a few years. He has had the kind of career path that befalls many popular comedians, going from wacky showcase comedies to “serious” films that are supposed to show one’s acting range. Those transitions don’t always work out so well- just ask Bill Murray about The Razor’s Edge.
Anyway, someone gave Sandler some good advice, because he is back in his element of broad comedy, with a script by himself, Robert Smigel, and Judd Apatow. This film has been compared, not surprisingly, to the Borat movie, which I also haven’t seen, but it seems safe to assume that no one will confuse the two beyond the thick accent and fish-out-of-water situations.
I was reminded more, strangely enough, of much more serious movies like Saturday Night Fever, La Cage Aux Folles, or Do The Right Thing, mainly because of the theme of a character wanting to break out of the world that is expected for him. Less surprising is the safe approach that Sandler and company take to depicting that world; Israel and Palestine are basically insane whereas immigrants in New York just want to get along? Sure.
There are a lot of laughs in this movie, and some endearing weirdness such as the omnipresence of hummus and hacky-sack. It starts to slow down considerably when the film tries to recognize the politics between the two groups; the commentary is very tame, so why bother?
As other writers have observed, the cameos get to be distracting after a while too, especially since most of them are only worth a smile of recognition. Casting non-actors in key roles, like Michael Puffer and Dave Matthews, was not a good idea. The Billy Idol cameo in The Wedding Singer was gold; it was also a brief pleasure compared to all of the Mariah Carey in The Zohan. There is good supporting work from those immediately surrounding Sandler, like John Turturro and Lanie Kazan, and Montreal native Emmanuelle Chriqui is a real find.
So, this was an agreeable picture for the most part, in need of a rewrite here and there, especially at the very end; but it was better than I had expected.
Crowd reaction at end of movie: none
Credit cookie?: no
For further consideration: this marks the halfway point!
Opening next week: Hancock, The Wackness, Kabluey, Diminished Capacity
Hoping for: Hancock