You Don’t Mess With the Zohan

06/04/2008 12:00 AM |

Zohan, who bears a remarkable audio resemblance to Borat, is a major departure from Adam Sandler’s palette of self-deprecating losers (The Water Boy, The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore). Instead, we find a self-assured, and very buff, Sandler whose ego and confidence are as big as his codpiece.

A Rambo-like Israeli army special-ops soldier with superhuman powers, Zohan leaves hero status behind to follow his dream of becoming a hair stylist in New York. Faking his death and defeat to The Phantom (a silly John Turturro), the film playfully transitions from discord in the Middle East to Zohan’s ability to “make sticky” with a parade of delirious elderly women (see the Sandler-produced Grandma’s Boy for another example of these perverse pairings) at a beauty parlor run by Dalia (Entourage‘s Emmanuelle Chriqui), who’s Palestinian.

Written by Sandler, Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel, Zohan has plenty of raunchy gags to spare — such as a game of cat hacky sack — but the movie ultimately bogs down as Zohan pursues Dalia, and The Phantom arrives for a showdown with his comic-book rival. Cameos by Mariah Carey, Henry Winkler, Kevin Nealon and George Takai add little to the story, though Chris Rock’s patois-chatting cab driver is a momentary hoot.

While diehard Sandler fans will trace Zohan’s desire to change the world by making hair "silky smooth" to Billy Madison, they’ll have to settle for a lukewarm, feel-good resolution that’s a metaphor for ending the conflict in the Middle East.

Opens June 6