There are several points I toyed with making in this review but never got around to, either for word-count reasons or because my writing just got into a certain groove and I didn’t feel I could shoehorn them in. These include:
The sheer abundance of hummus.
The fact that Zohan has posters of KISS frontman Gene Simmons, who was born in Israel, and eyepatched Israeli general Moshe Dayan on his bedroom wall — which neatly sums up the film’s proudly political yet frivolously hedonistic spirit.
The parallels with Steven Spielberg’s Munich (2005), which likewise revolves around an Israeli who kicks ass but gives it all up for a life of obscurity in New York.
The fact that this, like Munich, is a film about a Jew who kicks ass, and thus might be the sort of film that would please the Seth Rogen character in Knocked Up (2007) — which, incidentally, was written and directed by Judd Apatow, who also co-wrote Zohan.
The way this film’s reversal of all stereotypes except for the evil rich white man and the evil poor white redneck parallels a similar double standard in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
The multiple celebrity cameos.
The way this film is yet one more example of how the cast members of the original Star Trek (1966-1969) have devolved into parodies of themselves, such that they could probably never play those characters again without getting sucked into a fair bit of ironic nudge-nudge wink-wink self-referential humour. (I could go into more detail about that, but I don’t want to spoil the joke.)
The fact that Emmanuelle Chriqui, the actress who plays the Palestinian love interest to Adam Sandler’s Israeli super-agent, is apparently not Arabic herself but is, rather, the daughter of “Jewish French Moroccan immigrants of Sephardic Moroccan descent”.
And probably some other stuff that I don’t remember at the moment.
For more insights, if that’s the word, into the film and the way it fits into its cultural moment, see the New York Times . . .
Mr. Badreya said that the comedy in “Zohan” was not quite evenly divided between ridiculing Arabs and ridiculing Jews. “The jokes are not 50-50,” he said. “It’s 70-30. Which is great. We haven’t had 30 for a long time. We’ve been getting zero. So it’s good.”
. . . and Variety:
Since the 1970s, most “Saturday Night Live” alumni with film careers have made spoofs of sex, sports, schools and spies, but left the topical laffs to TV’s sketch comedies. In contrast, Sandler tackled gay marriage in his “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” and, as an actor for hire, made films about immigration (“Spanglish”) and Sept. 11 (“Reign Over Me“). OK, not exactly the definitive word on these issues, but he’s making films about something.
Indeed he is, and this is why I find it impossible to dismiss Sandler out of hand as easily as I would often like to do.