It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The crowd I joined for "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" roared with laughter, and I understand why. Adam Sandler's new comedy is shameless in its eagerness to extract laughs from every possible breach of taste or decorum, and why am I even mentioning taste and decorum in this context? This is a mighty hymn of and to vulgarity, and either you enjoy it, or you don't. I found myself enjoying it a surprising amount of the time, even though I was thoroughly ashamed of myself. There is a tiny part of me that still applauds the great minds who invented the whoopee cushion.
Sandler plays an ace agent for the Mossad, the Israeli secret police; he has no interest in counter-terrorism and spends as much time as possible hanging out with babes on the beach. Known as the Zohan, he has remarkable physical skills -- and equipment, as his bikini briefs and the crotches of all his costumes make abundantly clear. The laws of gravity do not limit him; he can travel through cities like Spider-Man but without the web strings. He can simply jump for hundreds of feet.
The Zohan harbors one secret desire. He wants to be a hairdresser. His equivalent of pornography is an old Paul Mitchell catalog, and one day he simply cuts his ties with Israel and smuggles himself into the United States in a crate carrying two dogs whose hair he does en route. In America, he poses as an Australian with a very peculiar accent, and when asked for his name, combines the names of his airborne flight buddies: Scrappy Coco. His auditions in various hair salons are unsuccessful (in a black salon, he attacks a dreads wig as if it were a hostile animal), until finally he is hired by the beautiful Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a Palestinian.
This plot is simply the skeleton for sight gags. Early on, we saw how much pain he could endure when he dropped a sharp-toothed fish into the crotch of his bikini swimming trunks. Now we see such sights as his sexual adventures with old ladies in the salon. In my notes, I scribbled in the dark: "An angel with the flexibility of a circus freak," adding, "he tells old lady," although maybe the old lady told him. At home with a new friend (Rob Schneider as an Arab cabdriver), he effortlessly seduces the friend's mother (the zaftig Lainie Kazan).