Arts & Culture

Zoolander + Munich = “Don’t Mess With The Zohan”?

Words I thought I’d never say: The new Adam Sandler movie (trailer below) looks kind of…good. And not totally-competent-romantic-comedy good like The Wedding Singer, or look-at-me-I-can-do-indie good like Punch-Drunk Love. Don’t Mess with the Zohan, about a Mossad agent who … Read More

By / January 22, 2008

Words I thought I’d never say: The new Adam Sandler movie (trailer below) looks kind of…good. And not totally-competent-romantic-comedy good like The Wedding Singer, or look-at-me-I-can-do-indie good like Punch-Drunk Love. Don’t Mess with the Zohan, about a Mossad agent who fakes his own death so that he can pursue his secret dream of becoming a hairstylist, might actually be funny. This is probably due in large part to Sandler’s co-writer, Judd (Knocked Up ) Apatow. But I think it’s also because this might be the first time a mainstream comedy has tapped into Israel’s inherent comic potential.

Americans tend to find the hallmarks of Israel’s pop culture—the tight jeans, the Euro-disco music, the machismo—completely hilarious. Then again, we’re equally amused by any country where men wear tight pants. But what makes Israel funnier than, say, Spain, is the lethal military gloss over the entire nation, and the fact that everyone’s Jewish, which in America has become a kind of lazy shorthand for comedy. Borat has pretty much killed the genre of jokes about how non-American males are more comfortable with their bodies. Years of bad news have made it difficult to say anything truly funny about Israel’s military situation. And Keeping Up with the Steins may have tossed the final scoop of dirt on the coffin of Yiddish shtick (OMG she said "shtick"! FUNNY SOUNDS!) But when you combine those three elements, you get something new. Something fresh-feeling. Even if it stars Adam Sandler.

 

Tagged with: