Starring: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui

Director: Dennis Dugan

Screenplay: Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, Judd Apatow

Cinematography: Michael Barrett

Original Score: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Running Time: 113 mins.

Adam Sandler is NOT the king of subtlety by any means, he is, however, a very funny actor when he’s on form. While certainly not his biggest fan, when he gets the balance of heart to laughs right, his films can be very good, such as 50 First Dates and The Wedding Singer. On the other hand, his more ‘high concept’ comedies often leave me feeling cold through their stupidity and endless repeated gags (Little Nicky and Big Daddy take a bow), don’t get me wrong I love stupid humour, but there seems to be a fine line between loving and hating a comedian/actor at this level. For example i love Mike Myers (have yet to see The Love Guru, so shall reserve judgement there), but hate the Wayans Brother’s and Eddie Murphy’s recent offerings. Personal preference over rules where comedies are concerned i’m afraid, regardless of who you are!

So in reviewing an Adam Sandler film despite what you say your preaching to the converted. But, and this is a big but, there are two factors here that could well draw in a whole new audience. For a start its scripted in part by Judd Apatow, current comedy king behind such gems as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and the upcoming Pineapple Express, the frat pack god if you will! Apatow’s influence in the script is not a clear one and it’s certainly not easy to distinguish which ideas he did input making this point pretty much irrelevant. So to the other factor, the plot.

Sandler is Zohan, a semmingly superhuman Israeli counter-terroroist agent, the crux here is that no longer does he wish to rid the world of terrorists he wants to cut hair in the Paul mitchell salon. In order to d this he fakes his own death and heads to New York, finally finding work in a struggling salon and working his way up to stylist. Along the way, Zohan’s past catches up with him in numerous ways, he falls in love, fights back against a developement project that threatens the local community and addresses moral in how we should all get along, ‘cos y’know deep down we are all the same! If this all sounds a bit heavy, its not, it is hammered home witha the subtlety of a wrecking ball. This doesn’t make the film bad, it just gives you a good measure of what kind of ground it treads.

But, lets face it, we don’t watch a comedy like this for its intricate plot, and the humour here is spread far and wide, political swipes, gross out, misplaced objects, funny dancing, whatever your comedic taste it’s likely there will be at least one joke you will find funny. But therein lies the problem as a whole it simply isnt funny enough, and all too often parts that are funny are simply milked to death. High points are the ongoing obsession with Hummus (a continuous joke that does work, until the final and over the top use of it), the fight scenes are fantastically over cooked, using special effects to the extreme so we can watch Zohan jump Bourne style across rooftops and kick through walls, and many of the race jokes hit the mark, swiping at all colours and creeds, especially Zohan’s pronounciation of certain words with one laugh out loud moment involving his chosen alter-ego name,

At it’s very worst are cringe-worthy scenes with Mariah Carey, and the complete over-egging of crotch gyration, on top of this comes one plot strand too many including an awful and totally out of place boardroom scene, and a sub plot with Rob Schneider that is totally unnecessary. Were someone much more vigilant in the editing room this could well have been a very strong comedy. As it is its flabby and not nearly as funny as it needed to be.

VERDICT

Theres something for everyone here in the comedy stakes, problem is that ‘something’ is just not enough. With a cut bringng it in at ninety minutes, it could have been a solid Sandler vehicle. As it is its simply no more than in ‘worth a watch’ territory. Kudos to him for addressing the ‘race’ issue but Sacha Baron Cohen did it so much better, and more consistently funnier, with Borat. Even the usually reliable John Turturro can’t raise the grade! 

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