Sunday, September 24, 2023

10 interesting things about the production of You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

In the past, I've considered You Don't Mess with the Zohan as part of Adam Sandler's pretty-good run, even if it didn't make my top 60 favorite comedy movies list

It suffers a bit from being a little overly long at nearly two hours. It is one of the flat-out silliest movies you'll find in all of Hollywood, so while I find it side-splittingly funny in a lot of parts, it's also quite a bit to take all at once.

Everything has already been said in terms of what happens in Sandler's inventive tale of an Israeli special-forces soldier who longs to be the next Paul Mitchell, but here are 10 interesting things about the production of Zohan.

  1. Sandler, Robert Smigel, and Judd Apatow developed the film for release in 2008 after Sandler heard about an Israeli soldier who wanted to be a hairdresser. OK, so maybe it wasn't such an inventive idea, but you have to give him credit for taking that small bit of real-life information and turning it into what would have to be considered a very good extended Saturday Night Live bit.
  2. Nezi Arbib
    Nezi Arbib was that real-life inspiration. Performing his hairstyling in Solana Beach, California, Arbib taught Sandler and his crew his hairstyling techniques and Sandler adapted his mannerisms for the role. I wonder if part of those mannerisms were actually to seduce his clients with such a ridiculous amount of midsection grinding actions.
  3. The opening scene on the beach is actually shot in Tel Aviv, but the rest is filmed in New York and Los Angeles, with some scenes in Mexico, which served as a good substitute for Israel.
  4. Sandler did many of his own stunts in a very stunt-filled comedy. It's impressive, and he allegedly trained pretty hard learning martial arts and wirework.
  5. Emmanuelle Chriqui
    Several Israeli actors were cast in the film, including the Zohan's main love interest Emmanuelle Chriqui, who played Dalia and is Moroccan/Israeli.
  6. Zohan is loaded in terms of cast members. It seems anyone in Hollywood would do anything to work with Sandler. The film included John Turturro, Lainie Kazan, and Rob Schneider in bigger roles. Bit parts are too many to mention, but include Chris Rock, Kevin James, John McEnroe, Kevin Nealon, Mariah Carey, Sandler family members, Apatow, Dave Matthews, Charlotte Rae, George Takei, and Dom DeLuise.
  7. A professional hairstylist was on set to train in some of the amaazing styles that harken back to Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Olivia Newton John.
  8. It must be said that some of the comedy is pretty raunchy and a little jarring in today's post-#MeToo era. There are especially a lot of Middle Eastern stereotypes that Sandler was able to defend at the time as simply being intended to be funny and not serious in any way. I think another perspective, to be fair, would be that Sandler was doing his part to positively address the never-ending war between Israel and Palestine by showing how the two groups can get along just fine when they are living far away in the United States.
  9. Critics only gave Zohan a 37% and audiences not much better at 45%, but that didn't keep it from making more than $200 million worldwide.
  10. The soundtrack is a mix of Israeli, Middle Eastern, and pop music, with Carey's acting skills being probably the best music-related thing about the movie. I'm not a fan of her music but she is pretty funny here.

I'm kinder to Zohan after all these years than other fans and critics.

4 out of 5 stars

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