Sunday, March 08, 2009

Turns out "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" is about a real estate dispute

Given the circumstances, it was fortuitous that You Don't Mess With the Zohan, the zany, dumb, and distracting movie starring Adam Sandler as an Israeli Special Forces Soldier-turned-hairdresser, showed up in my Netflix queue on Friday.

And guess what? It's sort of about sports and real estate, offering very tangential echoes of AY. Turns out that a villainous developer named Walbridge wants to clear a Lower Manhattan neighborhood--improbably a commercial district populated with Israelis and Arabs--so it can "have its own indoor mall, with its own 300-foot tall rollercoaster."

"Don't talk to me about that dump," Walbridge says disparagingly about the salon run by Zohan's Palestinian girlfriend Dahlia. "I've got a huge, classy hotel standing there, and it's standing there staring at that cheap garbage. I want it staring at SuperCuts."

So how does Walbridge get the disparate members of the community out of their buildings? He sponsors an Israel vs. Lebanon competition in Hacky-Sack Mania.

And who are the villains? Rednecks dressed as Arabs. "It's a gift, messing with the Jews and the terrorists at the same time," one of the miscreants tells his patron. "Right now, we're scheduled to sabotage a black people's parade in Chicago, but we can move that."

The film is gleefully vulgar, Mariah Carey has a silly cameo, and the ending brings a goofy example of Middle Eastern reconciliation. It's not as informative as, say, Brooklyn Matters, but it's a lot more entertaining.

(See the comment for a link to Marshall Berman's mention of the film in a discussion about eminent domain and AY.)

1 comment:

  1. So THIS must be what Marshall Berman was talking about during a panel discussion about eminent domain at the New York Public Library in June, 2008. He mentioned how entertaining he thought this film was (it was in its initial release at the time), but he never explained how it was relevant to the discussion. The comment was inexplicable to me.

    Now there's one tiny question answered in my life.

    The panel discussion is covered here:

    and here as well with Berman's Zohan reference mentioned: