Adam Sandler plays conflict for laughs in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

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Adam Sandler plays the Israel-Palestine conflict for laughs in the knockabout comedy You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. He stars as a top Israeli commando who, tired of the endless tit-for-tat violence in the Middle East, fakes his own death and stows away on a plane to New York to follow his dream of becoming a hairstylist.  With impeccable timing, the movie is released on DVD in the UK today.

At the time of writing, Israeli troops have begun pulling out of Gaza and Hamas has announced a ceasefire, but the death toll during Israel’s offensive (which followed the logic of “an eye for an eyelash”, according to Oxford academic Avi Shlaim) stands at over 1,200 Palestinians killed, more than half of them civilians, and 13 Israelis, all but three of them soldiers.

In these circumstances, I suppose we should grasp at any straw, even the limp one offered by Sandler’s wishy-washy why-can’t-we-all-get-along message, but today the laughs ring hollow and the slapstick violence seems in bad taste. Then again, when did anyone ever watch an Adam Sandler movie expecting good taste?

Read about Sandler’s film career – and his propensity for playing arrested adolescents.