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You Don't Mess With the Zohan

Sony Pictures // PG-13 // October 7, 2008
List Price: $38.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Michael Zupan | posted October 1, 2008 | E-mail the Author
I enjoy a gut busting Adam Sandler film as much as the next person, but I just never know what to expect anymore. Some of Sandler's films have turned out to be classics no one will ever forget, and others have been fairly disappointing. Some of his best work surfaced when he was working with material that allowed him to be a little zany and have some fun. You Don't Mess With the Zohan returns Adam to that format, but unfortunately falls incredibly short of expectations. We can tell Sandler had a great time acting out the uncomplicated Zohan character, but unfortunately this film fails at almost everything it attempts to do.

Zohan works for the Israeli government as an anti-terrorism agent. He's the hippest bad-ass in all the land. Terrorists fear him, and all the ladies want a piece of him. When he's not playing ping-pong with a grenade to obliterate his enemies, he's on the beach busting out some serious disco moves in the nude.

Zohan has become tired of the ongoing battles however, and he yearns for a different way of life. He's terrific at what he does, but he can't justify spending a lifetime killing terrorists, when they're just going to keep rising from the depths to keep the war alive. Eventually Zohan fakes his own death so he can fly to the United States and start his new life as... a hair stylist?

Zohan changes his name and his look, and hits the Big Apple to find a job. He starts working at a hair salon eventually, but he's forced to sweep up hair as he's had no experience as a stylist. Even that seems problematic for Zohan, as he's innocently crude, often acting as more of a 'free spirit' than even New York City is used to seeing. Before the Zohan can become the stylist he dreams to be, he needs to work on his people skills while trying to figure out how he can prove his worth as a hair dresser. Complications arise in his quest to begin his dream career however, when his enemies discover he's still alive and try to have him killed.

Let's strip down and examine what we really have. The story itself is fairly weak, and mostly acts as an enabler for Sandler's desire to dance around like a disco obsessed Billy Madison, while throwing his vocal impression talents into the mix. That's where the first problem comes into play. It's a given that Sandler is going to sound more like a parody than the real thing, but his accent is just awful. Even worse, some of the supporting casts' accents are downright hideous. I'm surprised they were able to land a role in a major motion picture at all. Was there an open casting call for soap opera school dropouts, or what? I expect that sort of thing from Sandler, it's part of his schtick, but the supporting actors were awful to the point of being a distraction.

Maybe it's just me, but there's something that was missing from this comedy. Care to guess what it is? Yeah, the comedy! The gags are heavily committed to cause sexual discomfort for the audience. Zohan was able to think everyone had a beautiful quality that could be exploited if you didn't focus on the negatives, so Zohan macks it to everyone. His desire for older women was a little more than just disturbing.

When they weren't trying to gross me out with sexual images I couldn't shake out of my head, the film made Zohan's stunts, which I'm assuming were also meant for comedic effect, look more outlandish than some of the stunts I had seen in the latest Indiana Jones flick. Yeah, they were that bad. In one scene, Zohan stuffs a piranha down his swimmies to show the opposition how impervious he is to pain. CGI is used to show the illusion of the piranha moving around in his shorts, but the effect is so bad it's distracting, much like the rest of the stunts in the movie. At times, I didn't know if I was watching an action-comedy, or a rejected episode of the Power Rangers.

Because the film spends so much time being incredibly self-indulgent, the pacing is thrown all out of whack. I never found myself starting to care for any of the characters in the film, not even the Zohan himself. With the friends he meets, and the love story that's buried somewhere under the failed attempts at humor, the film never focuses on any personality long enough to bring them to life.

There are two versions of the movie on this Blu-ray release. The theatrical version is 113 minutes, and the unrated is only four minutes longer. I would have hoped the four minutes could provide some additional room for a single character to emerge as more than just a cliché, but I guess I was asking for too much.

I can definitely see there being a group of people that would appreciate this film, as long as they didn't go into it expecting too much. However, I personally found this to be one of the poorest Sandler films in a very, very long time.


The print itself is free of any dirt or scratches on this 1080p AVC encode. The video is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is loaded with detail. The picture is sharp, but has a slight touch of softness to it so it looks natural and three dimensional. There's very minimal grain that can be seen in this transfer at all, and it appears to be more from the film itself, not a product of a poor transfer.

Despite the stunning amount of detail and clarity though, there's some very disturbing issues that I found to be extremely distracting. I didn't get to see this film in theaters, so I can't be sure if this is an accurate representation of what some of you may have seen, but black levels and color tones seem to suffer from a warm haze that's coated over the image for a majority of the picture. Scenes that are very dark have some great color saturation and an inky black level, but a majority of the film isn't all that dark, so we're plagued most of the time with a golden hue. It wreaks havoc on the black level for a majority of the film, adds an unnatural touch of warmth to skin tones, and even seems to make many of the colors appear washed out. More often than not, I base the video section of my review on the transfer itself. However, this is a rare occurrence where the artistic intent may be to blame for the poor video we have on this release.


The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track didn't really do anything for me. Everything comes across crisp and clear without any clipping or distortion, and the dialogue never seems to get drowned out. However, the action sequences never seem to give your surround system a workout. The music doesn't even come out with a lot of vibrancy. The entire movie seems to lack the dynamic range a Dolby TrueHD track should. It's pretty unfortunate that a film that should have been very pleasing in the audio department, comes along with a fairly boring mix.

Also included are a French Dolby True HD 5.1 track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 Thai track, and an English stereo track.


Commentary with Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, Rob Schneider, and Nick Swardson - This commentary is fairly entertaining. These guys discuss the film in a laid back manner, having fun and sharing some laughs along the way. It's pretty informative, but there tends to be dead air on the track from time to time, even with all the talent behind the microphone. They all thought they did a great job on the film, and it's obvious they had a good time being a part of it. However, there's one comment I had to take away from this track: "I think it's funny here the audience is laughing and they don't know why." To me, this just speaks volumes.

Commentary with Director Dennis Dugan - This was a pretty boring commentary. I do appreciate that they decided to provide two commentary tracks for this release, but this one is loaded with spots of silence, and Dugan isn't always very informative. If you're going to listen to just one commentary track, stick with the first one.

Translating the Zohan - There are a lot of foreign expressions that are used in the film in a comical manner, so it's nice that this pop-up feature is included to fill in some of the translation gaps. However, this draws a little attention to how the feature itself tried to use words the audience wouldn't understand to bring home some of the jokes.

Look Who Stopped By - Sandler has a ton of friends in the entertainment industry, so the film has an avalanche of cameos. At nine minutes long, it's a fairly entertaining feature that highlights the stars that took the time to make an appearance in the film.

Dugan: The Hand's on Director - The cast and crew give kudos to Director Dennis Dugan for being a professional, yet entertaining guy to work with. It's not a very interesting featurette overall, but it's only seven minutes, and the man doing the work behind the scenes deserves a little recognition, doesn't he?

The Stunts of Zohan - Stunt Coordinator Scott Rogers informs us of how the stunts were pulled off during the action heavy sequences in the movie. This featurette is ten minutes in length and fairly informative for being as short as it is. It doesn't really provide insight as to why some of the stunts had to look as silly as they did, but you can't really blame this guy for what the director wanted on screen. With the completely over the top movie we have, I guess it was just an artistic choice.

Dugan Espanol? - This is only five minutes long, but it's absolutely hilarious. Dugan tries to speak Spanish to a bunch of extras, and it's unfortunate for him that he wasn't fluent in the language before giving it the ole' college try. He crashes and burns, but thanks to his expense we're getting a good amount of laughs.

Zohan vs. The Phantom - John Turturro is interviewed about his character, The Phantom, which is Zohan's most battled rival. This feature is only four minutes in length, but John has a little fun with the interview to provide a few laughs.

Zohan's Doubles - At seven minutes long, this feature covers the stunt doubles that filled in for Sandler during the movie. It's not particularly interesting, since it was never a real mystery when a stunt double was being used in the movie. In one scene, there's an awful shot that shows a stunt double waving as he's standing on one of the legs of a helicopter in the air. His hand is positioned conveniently in front of his face so you wouldn't be able to tell it was a double. It almost doesn't give the audience enough credit for their intelligence.

Shooting Baja for Tel Aviv - This feature also rings in at around the seven minute mark, and covers the shooting location that was used for Zohan's hometown.

All American Redneck - Dave Matthews is amongst the many cameos in the film, although he doesn't play himself. He actually plays a part leading a pack of rednecks, and this four minute featurette takes a closer look at that. As dry as Dave can be during some of his interviews regarding his music, he actually seems like a guy you'd want to hang around with and have a drink.

From Guns to Scissors - This feature runs at about nine minutes, and discusses the backdrop the film used about the Arab and Israeli conflict. Some of the supporting cast in the film originate from that area and are able to provide some good insight on the situation.

News on 3 - There are three mini-featurettes here that total eight minutes altogether. We have some of the co-stars that play Zohan's friends, as well as his enemies, providing short news interviews about the Zohan himself. This is pretty much just throw away material.

The Robot - This feature that's four minutes in length, shows us a character that didn't make it into the final product. It's nice to know about certain things like this that didn't make it into the movie, but all the mini-featurettes have overstayed their welcome at this point. Why couldn't the supplemental material have been edited together as an entertaining feature?

Laughing is Contagious - This is a six minute gag reel that's been pieced together with music, highlighting some of the hijinks and goof-ups that happened while filming. These features always prove to be entertaining, even for a film this bad.

Deleted Scenes - There are fifteen scenes here, and they run cumulatively at thirteen minutes. Much like the majority of the film itself, these scenes aren't really worth watching. The scenes that were kept in the film were hardly worth seeing, so I'm sure you can figure out how bad the deleted scenes might be.

Getting Sticky - Girls in bikinis. Five minutes, of girls in bikinis. They gush over the Zohan for a good five minutes, and although I loved looking at these gorgeous girls, this is just another throw away featurette.

BD Live content will be available for this film, although they won't be available most likely until the day this Blu-ray is released.

Overall, there's a ton of extras on this disc. Unfortunately, most of them aren't very entertaining, and the amount of features can be tiresome to watch since they're so short. A full length feature should have been cut together with some care, but instead the decision was made to keep them short so they'll look good on the extras list. But, there's one thing I can say this Blu-ray does better than most. Every feature is available in high definition, and that's not something you see too often.


There have been some Sandler films I didn't enjoy as much as some of the others, but I think this has got to be the second worst effort from him to date, if not the worst, and it may possibly be the worst mainstream movie I've seen all year. The plot is weak, and often sacrifices what may have been a compelling action or love story, for self-serving doses of Adam doing what he does best. Unfortunately the film drags due to this, and the characters never get a chance to connect with the audience in a meaningful way. I'm glad that Sandler is doing goofy material once again, but I hope for his sake, and ours, that he's a little more choosey with his next project.

Please, just skip it. This film is an atrocious, abysmal effort. On top of that, the video is plagued by issues from inconsistent black levels, and an unnatural golden hue. The audio mix is less than impressive, and the features as plentiful as they are, can mostly be classified as throw away material. However, they score points for all being in HD. If you're a Sandler fanatic and absolutely must see this, then rent it, but don't say I didn't warn you.

-About the Author- Michael Zupan is primarily a film guy, but has a variety of places where you can enjoy his work otherwise. Check for video game op-ed pieces and podcasts, and be sure to check out the sister site, Byte-Size Cinema, linked up top. This writer also contributes significantly to in-print magazines such as Minecraft Explorer and Fortnite Explorer!

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