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You Don't Mess with the Zohan in our magazines

THE MOVIE: You Don't Mess with the Zohan

Adam Sandler • John Turturro • Emmanuelle Chriqui • Rob Schneider
DIRECTOR: Dennis Dugan

Adam Sandler THE CONCEPT:
Israeli commando, Zohan Dvir (Sandler) is tired of all the fighting and longs to be a hairstylist. During a battle with his nemesis, The Phantom (Turturro), Zohan sees an opportunity to change his life. He ends up working as a hairdresser at a rundown New York salon run by a Palestinian woman (Chrique). With his new identity, Scrappy Coco, he begins his career as a hairstylist, until one day he’s recognized by Salim (Schneider), a Palestinian cabdriver with a long-held grudge against the commando.

U.S. RELEASE: June 6 2008, Nationwide • Rated: PG-13


Adam Sandler“When I was a kid I always heard about the Israeli army, and about this tiny little country and how everyone around them wants them gone, and every time somebody comes after them they take care of business, and so as a Jewish kid you were proud of that. You were like, ‘Alright, they are trying to take out the Jews and the Jews ain’t gonna let it happen.’
And then I hung out with a lot of Israeli guys here in California. I had an Israeli guy who used to cut my hair, and I just thought it would be funny to see an Israeli solider who was a bad ass warrior and fearless, and he had a secret dream of wanting to do something else but was embarrassed to share it with anybody.” ROBERT SMIGEL (screenwriter): “Working on the script was a long process and we were careful – I had some friends I would occasionally send scripts to – Arab-Americans and Jewish friends, just to get a sense of, is this too much? Or is it appropriate? We tried to be offensive to both sides.”

Rob Schneider“I was just excited about it, because I knew there was a great area to mine for humor that people hadn’t been seeing before, and that was what excited them and me. There are so many great jokes there.”

“My job is to tee up the ball so that Sandler can smack it. We have a similar sensibility. I try to get his vision for the film and I work with all the departments to figure out the best way to facilitate it. Now that we’ve done five movies together, I know what he wants; it’s easier to know than to try to predict.”

Emmanuelle Chriqui“My mother was a very fiery, unbelievable Moroccan woman, so I tapped into that energy to play a strong Palestinian woman. Even though Morocco’s in North Africa, the customs are very similar to those throughout the Arab world. I was in Israel four years ago. I spent three weeks there, I have family in Israel and I’ve always had friends who were closely affiliated with Israel. I wanted to be a part of this, and I think to shed a little bit of light on a really bleak situation is what we do when people laugh at this movie. We were Arabs and Jews together making this movie and we’ve really bonded.”

“Adam’s audience has gotten used to seeing him play character closer to himself. But even though Zohan can do no-arm pushups, he’s still goofy and vulnerable like Adam.”

“My intention is never to hurt anyone. I’m happy when people are having a good time, and I’ve got to tell you if someone comes up to me and is offended by anything I’ve done in the past, I listen to them. I’m bummed out. When we were working our asses off on the script and making the movie, I’m just picturing people having a great time. The fact that anybody walks away saying, ‘Oh man, I wish they didn’t say that,’ breaks my heart.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Columbia Pictures
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
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Film Review, #697, Summer 2008 cover

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