Dennis Dugan, the man who directed many of Sandler's other films including last years terrible Chuck and Larry, once again joins Sandler with You Don't Mess With the Zohan. Dugan's work has never been top notch, but he is at his absolute worst in this film. The scenes are shot with what seems like haste, as if he just wanted to get the movie over with. I don't blame him for that much. Practically every scene is choppy and seems to be held together with scotch tape that's beginning to peel. Judd Apatow has been credited as being a co-writer for You Don't Mess With the Zohan, and I am deeply saddened by this fact. To think he had anything to do with this completely laughless debacle is so depressing. Sandler's writing has always been known to be childish, but the subject matter of this film is far too adult for children to understand. And for anybody older the age of 13, you will understand the subject matter but not laugh because the jokes are still far too childish. Mr. Sandler, you are 41 years of age. Perhaps it is time to give up this act and start working on a more serious career, because you have shown potential for one in the past. The fact that the Zohan takes five jokes from the first ten minutes of the film and then repeats them through the entirety of the 113 minutes tells me that you have officially run out of originality and are reliant on used gags. We get it, Zohan likes hummus, thrusting his hips, and having sex with any woman that he wants...do something else! Grow up. It felt like Sandler spent more time wondering how he could sprinkle his buddies into the film rather than writing a good film.
Sandler's acting in You Don't Mess With the Zohan is just as detestable as his writing. He takes his character Zohan and makes him an unappealing person that is not funny but just annoying. Oh, and if you are able to understand more than 50% of what he is saying through his terrible fake accent, congratulations. I found myself having to sound out words in my head in order to comprehend what he was talking about. When I finally did figure out what he said, I was left unsatisfied at the tacky joke that it turned out to be. Actually, everybody in this garbage heap had a terrible accent. I probably understood only 60% of the dialogue in the entire film. Even Chris Rock who appears in the movie for under a minute as a Jamaican cab driver had a terrible accent. The only thing I picked up from him speaking is that he likes Chinese food. That's not funny. Emmanuelle Chriqui is Dalia, the Palestinian salon owner that hires Zohan. She doesn't use a heavy accent, but it didn't matter. She was still awful. Zohan's arch-enemy Phantom was played by John Turturro and it's as if he didn't even try. There is no other way of saying it. Nick Swardson plays Michael, a New Yorker who takes in Zohan when he first arrives to the city. (Zohan thanks him by having sex with Michael's mother. Funny, right?). I am a fan of Swardson and I thought he was hilarious in Grandma's Boy, another Happy Madison production. But he is a very R rated comedian, and the Zohan's PG-13 rating held back Swardson's potential, thus wasting him as an asset. There are plenty of other cameos from Sandler's associates such as Kevin James, John McEnroe, Kevin Nealon, and Rob Schneider. None are funny. Actually, that is not true. The only funny part in the entire film goes to Dave Matthews (that's right, of the Dave Matthew's Band) as a redneck who threatens a cage of puppies. It's not hilarious, but it is the only part I laughed out loud at. As far as Michael Buffer's part of the plot goes, he shows up late in the film, has two lines, and then it's over. Blink and you'll miss him.
In an attempt to make You Don't Mess With the Zohan somewhat meaningful, Sandler explores interactions between Palestinians and Israelis in New York. This is possibly where Judd Apatow fit in to this whole project, as he shows a great aptitude for sincerity. By showing us the encounters of these two groups in New York as opposed to the Middle East, we were supposed to see that we are not all so different in a very lighthearted way. But it is very hard to feel this way when the interactions are spent talking about which politicians wives you would have sex with. Although, the message was pounded into my brain that war is bad and it is not OK to assume that someone is a terrorist just because they are not from here. But these are two things I learned from my parents and teachers long ago. I didn't need Adam Sandler to try and explain it to me. What I do need is Adam Sandler to make a funny movie, and he did not do that.
I deeply considered walking out on You Don't Mess With the Zohan, but I was with someone so I could not leave. As I mentioned before, the film is 113 minutes, and is absolutely excruciating. What makes it even worse is that the jokes in this movie do not stop coming. There is one joke right after another. This wouldn't be so bad if any of those jokes were actually funny! Do you have any idea how uncomfortable it is to watch a movie that deals out jokes left and right but not a single hit lands? You will if you watch this movie. When the end credits finally began to roll, I practically sprinted out of the theater. Avoid this film like the plague. No wait, I have a better idea. Go to your local theater, break into the projector room, steal this film, take it to the beach, put it in a garbage pail, and start a bonfire with it. At least that way it could provide you with some fun. My rating (1/10)