You Don't Mess with the Zohan
|You Don't Mess with the Zohan|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Dennis Dugan|
|Music by||Rupert Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||Tom Costain|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$199.9 million|
You Don't Mess with the Zohan is a 2008 American comedy film directed by Dennis Dugan and produced by Adam Sandler, who also starred in the film. It was the fourth film that included a collaboration of Sandler as actor and Dugan as director. The film revolves around Zohan Dvir (Hebrew: זוהן דביר), an Israeli counterterrorist army commando who fakes his own death in order to pursue his dream of becoming a hairstylist in New York City. The story was written by Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, and Robert Smigel. It was released on June 6, 2008, in the US and on August 15, 2008, in the UK. The film grossed $199.9 million worldwide from a $90 million budget.
Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler) is a superhuman Israeli counter-terrorist for the IDF who has grown tired of the everlasting conflicts in his country and dreams of becoming a hairstylist at Paul Mitchell's in the United States. During his next mission against a Palestinian terrorist group led by his arch-enemy, superhuman Fatoush "Phantom" Hakbarah (John Turturro), Zohan fakes his own death and smuggles himself onto a plane to New York City, cuts his hair, and adopts the alias "Scrappy Coco" after two dogs (Scrappy and Coco respectively) whom he shared the flight with. Following his "success" at killing Zohan, Phantom opens a muchentuchen restaurant chain.
After his arrival in the United States, Zohan befriends Michael (Nick Swardson) by helping him against a bullying motorist, and is taken in by him and his mother, Gail (Lainie Kazan). He also meets a fellow Israeli named Oori (Ido Mosseri), who owns an electronics store, at a disco; Oori recognizes Zohan but vows to keep his identity a secret. After being refused by Paul Mitchell's and other hairstyling salons due to his lack of experience, Zohan is taken by Oori to an area in lower Manhattan populated with Middle Eastern immigrants, including Palestinians and Israelis. Zohan attempts to land a job in a struggling salon of a Palestinian woman named Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Dalia initially allows Zohan to sweep the floors, but after losing one of her employees, she allows him to be a stylist when he pleases a senior lady with an exceptional haircut and back room sexual service. Zohan's reputation spreads rapidly among the elderly women of lower Manhattan, causing Dalia's business to prosper, which upsets Grant Walbridge (Michael Buffer), a corporate magnate who has been trying to buy out all the local tenants on the block so that he can build a rollercoaster mall.
Zohan is eventually identified by a Palestinian cab driver named Salim (Rob Schneider), who bears a grudge against Zohan for having taken his goat away in Palestine because Salim spat on him. Salim convinces his friends, Hamdi and Nasi, to help him kill Zohan, but after several failed attempts they are forced to contact Phantom and convince him to visit New York to find Zohan. Meanwhile, Zohan has fallen in love with Dalia and comes clean to her, Michael and Gail about his true identity. After Dalia rejects Zohan for his counterterrorist background, Zohan decides to leave her to protect her, and confronts Phantom in a championship Hacky Sack game sponsored by Walbridge. Zohan's fight is cut short with sudden news of the Middle Eastern block being attacked, and he quickly departs.
At the scene of the fire, Zohan calms the Israelis and Palestinians, who each blame the other for the violence, and makes peace with Salim. Phantom then appears and confronts Zohan, but Zohan refuses to fight. Dalia appears, revealing that she is Phantom's sister, and convinces her brother to cooperate with Zohan against the arsonists, revealed to be racist rednecks hired by Walbridge to instigate an interethnic riot so he can get his new mall in the aftermath. As Zohan and Phantom work to save the block, Phantom admits that he always wanted to be a shoe salesman rather than a terrorist. Although the rednecks are defeated and Walbridge is jailed, the overexcited Phantom accidentally destroys all of the shops on the block with his powers.
With the Israelis and Palestinians united, the block is rebuilt and transformed into a collectively owned mall. Phantom opens a shoe shop there; Oori relocates his electronics shop to the mall; Salim gets back his goat; and Zohan and Dalia, having now married, open a beauty salon together. In the end, Zohan's parents, initially unsupportive of his dream to be a hairdresser, show up, approving of his new job and lifestyle before his father requests that he cut his hair, which Zohan happily does.
- Adam Sandler as Zohanele "Zohan" Dvir/Scrappy Coco
- John Turturro as Fatoush "Phantom" Hakbarah
- Emmanuelle Chriqui as Dalia Hakbarah
- Nick Swardson as Michael Klayman
- Lainie Kazan as Gail Klayman
- Ido Mosseri as Oori
- Rob Schneider as Salim, the taxi driver
- Dave Matthews as James T. O'Skanlon, the white supremacist
- Michael Buffer as Grant Walbridge, the villain
- Sayed Badreya as Hamdi
- Daoud Heidami as Nasi
- Kevin Nealon as Kevin, the community watch member
- Robert Smigel as Yosi
- Dina Doronne as Mrs. Dvir, Zohan's mother
- Shelley Berman as Mr. Dvir, Zohan's father
- John Paul DeJoria as Paul Mitchell
- Alec Mapa as Claude
- Ahmed Ahmed as Waleed
- Ben Wise as Yitzhak
- Joseph Marshak as Pinchas
- Guri Weinberg as Aharon
- Danny A. Abeckaser as Ze'ev
- Ido Ezra as Hassan
- Mousa Kraish as Bashir
- Roni Levi as Ephraim
- Mike Iorio as Bouncer
- Reuven Bar-Yotam as Levi
- Shulie Cowen as Debbie
- Maysoon Zayid as Nadira
- Helen Siff as Mrs. Skitzer
- Cynthia Frost as Mrs. Paulson
- Lina So as Scarlett Keh, Paul Mitchell's salon receptionist
- Barbara Ann Davison as Scrappy and Coco's owner
- Nicole Bennett as Walbridge's girlfriend
- Lily Javaherpour as Inaz, Hamdi's daughter
- Kristina Haddad as Hamdi's wife
- Larry Marko as Phantom's trainer
- Rick Gifford as Philip
- Barry Livingston as Gray "Pancake" Kleibolt
- Henry Winkler as himself
- Kevin James as himself (uncredited)
- Chris Rock as taxi driver
- Mariah Carey as herself
- Julia Lea Wolov as Mariah's Assistant
- Dana Goodman as Mariah's Assistant
- John McEnroe as himself
- George Takei as himself
- Bruce Vilanch as himself
- Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Greenhouse
- Edmund Lyndeck as Pharmacist
- Harry Denton as Undercover Agent
Sandler, Robert Smigel, and Judd Apatow wrote the first draft of the script in 2000, but the movie was delayed after the events of 9/11 because those involved felt that the subject would be too sensitive. Apatow left the project after the first draft in 2000 to work on his show Undeclared and had, for the most part, not been involved in the project since. The film is based in part on the story of Nezi Arbib, an Israeli soldier who after his service moved to southern California and opened a hair salon. Sandler trained with Arbib and his brothers, also former soldiers, for two weeks to learn hairstyling and work with clients. The movie features elements that first appeared in the SNL sketches "Sabra Shopping Network" and "Sabra Price Is Right," which starred Tom Hanks and were written by Robert Smigel. They originated lines such as 'Sony guts' and 'Disco, Disco, good, good'. The first sketch is also notable for featuring one of Adam Sandler's first (uncredited) television appearances while the second featured Sandler, Schneider, Smigel and Kevin Nealon in supporting parts. Robert Smigel worked with Sandler on past films including Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and Little Nicky, but this was the first time in which he was credited for helping to write the script. He was also an executive producer on the film which allowed him to further contribute to the movie's comedic sensibility. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz commented that the movie was known in Hollywood circles as "the Israeli movie." Haaretz also noted that while "Israeli actors were rushing to audition [for the movie]," the response among Arab actors was far from enthusiastic. (Emmanuelle Chriqui, who played Zohan's Palestinian love interest, was raised as an Orthodox Jew.) The film poked fun at the popularity of hummus in Israeli culture. In the movie, characters used it to brush their teeth and as a method to douse the flames of a fire, as well as a hair care product.
The score to the film was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams. He recorded his score with the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Sony Scoring Stage in April 2008. The soundtrack contains many songs in Hebrew, mostly by the popular Israeli band Hadag Nahash, the psychedelic trance duo Infected Mushroom, and Dana International. The film features "Strip" by Adam Ant, "Look on the Floor (Hypnotic Tango) (Angel City Remix)" by Bananarama, the Ace of Base songs "Hallo Hallo" and "Beautiful Life", the Rockwell song Somebody's Watching Me and Mariah Carey songs Fantasy and "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time".
The soundtrack contains (near the end) music re-arranged for the movie by Julius Dobos, based on the song "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja" from the Bollywood movie Disco Dancer (1982) starring Mithun Chakraborty.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 37% based on 188 reviews; the site's consensus is that the film "features intermittent laughs, and will please Sandler diehards, but after a while the leaky premise wears thin." Metacritic gives the film a rating of 54 out of 100, based on 37 reviews—indicating mixed or average reviews.
John Podhoretz, in The Weekly Standard, wrote that the movie has a "mess" of a plot and features, "as usual for Sandler, plenty of dumb humor of the sort that gives dumb humor a bad name, but that delights his 14-year-old-boy fan base." But the film also has an "unusual" amount of "tantalizing comic ideas" so that "every 10 minutes or so, it makes you explode with laughter." Entertainment Weekly gave the movie a C+ grade, calling it "another 'mess' from Sandler" which is, unlike Monty Python, a "circus that never flies."
On the positive side, Time claimed the film to be a "laff scuffle," and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars. David Edelstein of New York Magazine went as far as to say "Adam Sandler is mesmerizing," and A.O. Scott of The New York Times said it was "the finest post-Zionist action-hairdressing sex comedy I have ever seen."
You Don't Mess with the Zohan grossed $38 million on its opening weekend, ranked second behind Kung Fu Panda. As of September 7, 2008[update], it reached a US tally of $100 million. The film grossed $199.9 million worldwide.
Home media 
The film was released on DVD on October 7, 2008, with a 2-disc unrated edition, a single-disc unrated edition, and a theatrical edition, as well as a Blu-ray edition and UMD for PSP. It has sold over 1.2 million DVD units gathering revenue of $25.1 million.
- "You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
- "Box Office Mojo: You Don't Mess With the Zohan". Box oFfice Mojo. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- Rabin, Nathan (June 2, 2008). "Interview: Robert Smigel". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
- "Real-Life 'Zohan' Calls San Diego Home". 10News.com. 2008-06-04. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
- Gilad Halpern (May 25, 2008). "'Shampoo' meets 'Munich': New Adam Sandler film stars Mossad hit man turned hairdresser". Haaretz.
- Podhoretz, John (June 16, 2008). "Pushtak to Shove: Adam Sandler attacks the Middle East". The Weekly Standard. 13 (38). Retrieved June 13, 2008.
- Marks, Gil (2010), Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, John Wiley and Sons, pp. 269–271
- ‘Zohan’ Film Styles a New Israeli Hero, Rebecca Spence. The Forward. June 12, 2008
- The Commentator: Is Adam Sandler Our Greatest Jewish Mind?, Daniel Treiman. The Forward. June 19, 2008
- Dan Goldwasser (2008-04-20). "Rupert Gregson-Williams scores You Don't Mess with the Zohan". ScoringSessions.com. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
- "You Don't Mess With the Zohan (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
- You Don't Mess with the Zohan at Metacritic
- Lisa Schwarzbaum (June 13, 2008). "Movie Review: You Don't Mess With the Zohan (2008)". Entertainment Weekly (997).
- Richard Schickel (June 5, 2008). "Zohan: Laff Scuffle, Not Laff Riot". Time.
- Movie Review: You Don't Mess With the Zohan (PG-13). Roger Ebert. June 6, 2008.
- David Edelstein (June 5, 2008). "Israeli Stud, Aspiring Hairdresser". New York Magazine.
- A.O. Scott (June 6, 2008). "Watch Out, He's Packing a Blow-Dryer". The New York Times.
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