What You Need To Know:
ZOHAN is well made with plenty of often funny special effects when Zohan fights the bad guys. However, nearly every shot or scene is filled with either shots of Zohan’s crotch, sexual innuendo, or other explicit images. How this movie received a PG-13 rating with this much sexual content is unclear. It’s also totally outrageous!
(HH, PaPa, P, B, LL, VV, SSS, NN, A, MM) Strong humanist worldview with strong pagan elements such as hedonistic living mixed with a light pro-American and mild moral theme; two profanities and ten obscenities; fantasy, superhero type violence as character uses martial arts against enemy, some gun play and explosions; constant discussion of sex and male genitalia with continual shots of character’s crotch, one depicted sex scene between unmarried couple, though mostly played for laughs as well as constant off screen sex scenes of main character with numerous women; upper male nudity and rear male and female nudity; minor drinking of wine; no smoking or drug use; and, villainous landlord tries to close down neighborhood, vandalism.
YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN is the story of Zohan (played by Adam Sandler), an Israeli counterterrorist who fakes his own death and moves to New York City in order to pursue his dream of being a hair stylist. Zohan is an espionage agent who essentially has comical superhero powers, being able to do things that defy physics.
Once in New York, he finds his way to a neighborhood where Israeli immigrants live across the street from Palestinian immigrants. Zohan gets a job at a hair salon owned by love interest Dalia (played by Emmanuelle Chriqui) who gives Zohan a chance to cut hair. Quickly, Zohan’s clientele becomes middle-aged and elderly women who are charmed by him as well as the fact that after cutting their hair, he takes them to a back room where they have sexual relations.
Meanwhile, Zohan’s Palestinian rival, The Phantom (played by John Turturro), has also moved to America. He discovers that Zohan is alive and sets out to kill him. If that wasn’t enough, an evil landlord is trying to shut down the ethnic neighborhood in order to build a huge mall. The landlord hires Southern militia men to vandalize the neighborhood, hoping the Palestinians and Israelis will blame each other.
Zohan discovers that, since he is in love with Dalia, he physically can no longer “service” his women clientele. The action builds as the Palestinians and Israelis must learn to cooperate to fight the landlord villain.
ZOHAN is well made with plenty of special effects which are often funny as Zohan fights the bad guys. The action moves the story along quickly. Other than the cliché evil landlord element, the story is fresh and unique. However, nearly every shot or scene is filled with either shots of Zohan’s crotch, sexual innuendo, or images of Zohan gyrating on people and objects. How this received a PG-13 with this much sexual content is unclear. Zohan’s character is on one hand a “wide eyed innocent” in New York City, but on the other hand, a hedonist who does whatever he wants.
The movie makes the point that in America the Israeli and Palestinians can live together in peace, as they go about getting jobs and providing for their families. However, it doesn’t address any of issues that are at the heart of the Middle East conflict except that Zohan affirms that the Israelis were in the land first, and one Arab calls Zohan a “land grabber.”
Islam is never mentioned, however. Neither is Judaism. In fact, Zohan and his friends are always called “Israeli” but not “Jewish.” The movie is a comedy, so there’s no expectation that it would address these serious issues. Still, once the Middle East conflict is raised, it would have been good if the real issues were at least mentioned.
There is a mild moral theme in that Zohan realizes that if he’s in love with Dalia and wants to marry her, he can’t keep having random sexual relations with strangers. This is a minor theme, but at least it’s something. This is a crude comedy with some funny moments. However, the pervasiveness of crude humor is so constant, it requires much careful discernment when viewing. Diligent parents and other media-wise moviegoers will probably want to avoid it.