Monday, June 16, 2008

The Fizzy Bubbeleh Flick


American moviegoers may have half-consciously rejected any serious film about the current wars but they've embraced profane comedies about swarthy Middle Eastern men with insatiable sex drives - yes, the very men who have been generalized as "the enemy."

Last year, Borat.

This year, Zohan.

And who can blame the audience?

These films use low-down comedy to humanize people we've been encouraged to peg as "different" and certainly threatening.

As the title characer in Dennis Dugan's genuinely witty and insightful "You Don't Mess with Zohan," Adam Sandler has let his usual close-cropped hair grow into a head of wild, unruly, excited-looking ringlets and has pretty much fetishized the rest of himself as well.

This is inarugably his most sexually liberated performance, replete with a seemingly permanent bulge in his pants.

Dugan's film - which received some well-earned praise from A.O. Scott in The New York Times - is loaded with characters, but it belongs to Sandler, something the star accomplishes effortlessly, without hogging the screen.

It has nothing to do with gender when I say that "You Don't Mess with Zohan" is as hilarious as its opposite-sex counterpart, "Sex and the City," isn't. (Is there even one joke in that movie?) The sly "Zohan" script - by the ubiquitous Judd Apatow, Robert Smigel and Sandler himself - works miracles with a running joke incorporating hummus and I loved the recurring visual gag involving an Israeli soft drink called Fizzy-Bubbeleh.

Is that a real product? It should be.

(Artwork: Zohan rules!)

3 comments:

jbryant said...

I'm with you on this one, Joe. I laughed a lot and left the theatre feeling good. I'm amazed that they managed to take this subject matter and make a feel-good comedy out of it.

FYI, Fizzy-Bubbelah is a fictional beverage, but apparently inspired by some sort of Israeli soft drink craze of the '70s. I read an article somewhere that said the film seems to have been written by guys who haven't been to Israel since 1972 (the article was otherwise positive though). I think it linked out of imdb.

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