You don’t Mess with the Zohan

Hey all you movie buffs! Aren’t you people fed-up of watching the usual Hollywood stuff like action, comedy, romance, horror and all? If yes, then I’m sure you people definitely want some huge change this summer. So chill your head and checkout this action-packed comedy- ‘You don’t Mess with the Zohan’ (2008) starring Adam Sandler (Zohan), John Turturro (Fatoush Hakbarah or the Phantom) and Emmanuelle Criqui (Dalia).

This one hundred and seventeen minute Dennis Duggan film is very different from the other usual English movies. It’s about the lives of the immigrants living in the New York City who are constantly struggling and aspiring to lead a better life thousands of miles away from their homelands back in the Middle East. It comically portrays the usual tension that perpetually prevails between the Arabs and the Jews. The religious differences and the political issues, that have become a never-ending problem for the people of certain countries all over the world, spare none of their citizens. Be she/he a resident of his country or an immigrant in some western country, one is constantly bugged with the ever-pertaining and deeply-rooted hatred that she/he is “supposed” to feel against her/his country’s enemies across the border.

But still, there are some people who want to start an absolutely new life by distancing themselves from such age-old problems and it is they who make the whole difference. So is our hero of the movie- Zohan Divr who is a superhuman serving as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. He cleverly escapes to America to have a tryst with his dream of becoming a hair-stylist by opening a salon in one of the most fascinating cities of the world- New York. He, after reaching America, discovers that the fight which he tried to run away from, back in the Middle East, has not so easily freed him from its clutches because the same tension prevails between the immigrants too. Though forced to live in the shabbiest residential areas of the city, subjected to do various menial jobs, always looked down upon as some mutts, haunted by the racial gang wars and treated with suspicion and a scornful contempt and called “terrorists” by the whites in America, these Arabs and Jews still never agree to befriend their common enemy’s (the white racists’) friends (themselves) even in a foreign land. Unity strengthens and Zohan realizes this as soon as he meets the love of his life- Dalia, who is a Palestinian and runs a salon on her own.

He tries to disguise himself by cutting his own hair and changing his name to Scrappy Coco. He makes a way for himself through the rat race in the city. At the same time, he does his best to maintain a peaceful co-existence between the diasporas by keeping a community watch at night when all are asleep. Soon he discovers the fact that it’s a shark builder- Grant Walbridge who ignites sparks between the two communities sitting on the heaps of gunpowder in order to meet out his own profit. Walbridge intends to destroy the residential areas of the Arabs and Jews to build his own shopping mall. But Zohan is identified by a Palestinian cab driver named Salim who holds a grudge against him for stealing away his goat. As ever-suspicious of Jews, this Palestinian too invites Zohan’s enemy- Phantom- a Palestinian to kill him.

Does Phantom kill Zohan? What does Zohan, who is fully-aware of Phantom’s intentions, do to stop him? Do the two communities realize the importance of unity? Does Zohan get the love of his life- his special woman?

The thrust of the movie lies in its rather unusual ending which sets everything right. America proves the fact that it’s the melting point of diverse cultures, ethnicities and religions. The movie seems to draw many parallels between the immigrants of the U.S., U.K. and also Australia as everywhere they face racism in some way or the other but never miss to fight amongst themselves due to some motive less and nameless hatred which runs in their blood through their veins.

The accurate portrayal of the immigrants, their lives, accents and cultures has been marvelously done in the movie. The dialogues are intentionally delivered in grammatically incorrect English to keep up with the true immigrant spirit. The pronunciation of the words is also very alarming. The casting has been done very carefully so as to make a perfect resemblance with the real immigrants. The background music is also very metallic, foot-tapping and rocking. The claustrophobic bee-hive like houses in the slum-like urban areas of the megacities also gives a realistic attribute to the film. The movie has maintained a perfect unity of time, action and place. It also has a lot of cameos of various stars like Alec Mapa as Claude, Chris Rock as Caribbean taxi driver, Henry Winkler as himself, Kevin James as himself (uncredited), Dom DeLuise as himself (uncredited), Mariah Carey as herself, John McEnroe as himself, George Takei as himself, Bruce Vilanch as himself and John Paul DeJoria as himself.

If anyone has ever-enjoyed comedian Russell Peters’ stand-up comedies, jokes and mockery on the immigrants in the U.S. without feeling personally-offended, then it’s a must watch..

Aditi Swami