Sunday, March 1, 2009

You Don't Mess With the Zohan (live action movie)

The Zohan is the finest counter-terrorist agent the Israeli army has. He's so good that he can't even take a vacation in peace - he's always being called in to do something that, of course, only he can do. However, he wants more from life. Specifically, he'd like to become a hairdresser. In pursuit of his dreams, he fakes his own death and heads to New York City, where he promptly has difficulty getting his dream job. In desperation, he takes a job sweeping up hair at a Palestinian woman's struggling hair salon and eventually becomes a hairdresser there (who brings in clients with his extra service, a round of sex in the back room). Things seem to be going well, until it becomes clear that someone is trying to incite violence between the Palestinians and Israelis in the area near the hair salon. The Zohan and the Palestinians (including the Zohan's arch-enemy, the Phantom) will have to work together if they want to stop the evil corporation that threatens them all.

It's a little embarrassing to say this, but I actually enjoyed this movie (although there were bits where I could really have used a blindfold). Well, I enjoyed the non-sexual bits anyway. Adam Sandler did a wonderful job playing an over-the-top action hero. I was practically crying with laughter as he casually defeated scores of opponents.

Of course, there were sexual jokes a-plenty - this is not a movie you want to see with your kids or your parents. Heck, you probably wouldn't want to see it with anyone if you're easily embarrassed (as I am). The Zohan is an incredible fighter, but he's also an incredible lady's man. Any lady. A good chunk of the more sexual humor involves the Zohan and older/elderly ladies - he's very popular with the 50+ crowd at the hair salon (although they assure him, after his feelings for the lovely Palestinian owner of the hair salon make it impossible for him to get an erection for anyone else, that the sex was just a bonus and they really like how he does their hair). A little of that might be amusing, but there was just too much of it for me to handle.

Overall, I thought this was an amusing movie, as long as I kept my finger on the fast forward button during the hair salon scenes. I can't say whether Israeli and Palestinian viewers might be offended by the movie, although, from what I've read, feelings about it could go either way. Some of the humor in the movie is actually pretty clever, while quite a bit of it apparently has absolutely no connection to Israeli and/or Palestinian culture.

Watch-alikes:
  • Happy Gilmore (live action movie) - All Happy Gilmore has ever wanted was to be a hockey player. Unfortunately, although he can make a hockey puck travel at lethal speeds, he can't skate to save his life, and his hockey dreams are crushed. When Happy's grandmother is evicted from her house, his best chance to get the house back is to join the P.G.A. tour. Unfortunately, although Happy has the most powerful golf drive in history, his putting sucks and he's got anger management problems. Can he win the championship and get his mother's house back? Those who'd like another Adam Sandler movie may enjoy this - in addition, this movie has the same pro-older and -elderly women portrayal without all the sex.
  • Shaolin Soccer (live action movie) - A down-on-his-luck ex-soccer player meets a Shaolin Kung Fu practitioner named Sing who wants to spread the word about Shaolin Kung Fu. Together with Sing's five former Shaolin brothers, they form a soccer team and learn to play soccer in a way that incorporates each man's fighting style. Soon they are on a path to win a major tournament with a huge monetary prize, but they must first beat the dreaded Team Evil. Those who'd like another movie with lots of humor and over-the-top action may want to try this.
  • Hot Fuzz (live action movie) - Nicholas Angel, a top London cop, is transferred to the small and seemingly quiet town of Sandford. The town appears at first to be a bad fit for Angel, who is far more competent than any of the town's other cops, including Angel's bumbling and over-eager, but well-meaning, new partner. However, a rash of grisly murders leads Angel to the conclusion that there is a massive and deadly conspiracy to keep the town clean and pleasant. Those who'd like another movie with humor and over-the-top action might want to try this. However, be warned, the movie starts off pretty slow-paced - it takes a while before the murders and over-the-top action actually occur.

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