Jewdar apologizes profusely for the delay in seeing You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, but between Shabbos in New York, Shavuos in Bala Cynwyd, and the ER in Beth Israel Hospital (where, after a bed-jumping accident, the littlest Jewdar’s cranium was thankfully declared unfractured even if the swelling on his shayne punim left him looking a little like a Klingon), things have been a little hectic. This morning Jewdar and Mrs. Jewdar hopped on our matching Schwinn Cruisers and peddled over to Union Square to view the most eagerly anticipated Jewish movie since Borat.
Let’s be clear about this. Zohan is not for everybody. But if you have a sense of humor, and you are able to appreciate a comedy for what it is and not demand that it satisfy precisely your views on the Middle East, then the movie is absosmurfly hilarious. To be sure, much of the humor derives from a barrage of stereotypes–but when its done as well as in Zohan, that’s hardly a bad thing. The film sends up not just one, but several Israeli stereotypes–the virile "New Jew," arsim, Israeli electronic store crooks, the almost incestuous close-knittedness of Israeli society (even abroad)–all of them hitting their target with Zohan-like accuracy. The scenes depicting Zohan in counter-terrorist action were a hilarious parody of the genre (made all the more absurd because they’d just shown a trailer for Wanted, an action film which seems to seriously feature the type of Wachowski-esque action sequences shredded by Zohan.) It’s also a movie so full of hot Jewish girls that even the hot Palestinian girl is a yiddeneh (and kudos to Mrs. Jewdar for catching Charlotte Rae–not so hot, but still an MOT–before we did).
As far as the politics go, the movie–featuring an Israeli hero who delivers film history’s best comeback to the charge that the Jews stole Israel from the Palestinians–could only be seen as anti-Israel by someone who combines a demand for absoute right-wing conformity with a complete lack of creative subtlety, whose ideal film would essentially consist of Israelis spouting inspiring platitudes while valiantly slaughtering vaguely humanish terrorists who are trying to eat babies. Not that we don’t love Golan-Globus, too, but that shouldn’t be the standard for what makes a film good.
Long story shorty, Jewdar has added Zohan to our highly selective list of the greatest Jewish movies of all time, and a must see.