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Film / The Hebrew Hammer

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Shabbat Shalom, Motherfuckers!

The Hebrew Hammer is a 2003 "Jewsploitation'' comedy film, written and directed by Jonathan Kesselman.

Damien (Andy Dick), the evil son of Santa Claus, murders his father to continue his grandfather's (the previous Santa Claus, seen in the prologue) scheme to eliminate all December holidays save Christmas. When the Jewish Justice League gets wind of this fiendish plot, they start looking for one of their own to fight for their right to light their menorahs. The JJL Chief, Bloominbergensteinanthal (Peter Coyote), reluctantly agrees that their one hope is the one hebe too radical even for them: Mordechai Jefferson Carver (Adam Goldberg), the Hebrew Hammer.

The Chief's daughter, Esther (Judy Greer), convinces the Hammer to take up the cause. What follows is a hilarious walk through Jewish culture, playing with Jewish stereotypes, and saving Hanukkah for everyone.

Plans for a sequel, in which "the baddest Heeb this side of Tel Aviv" is to face off with no less than Adolf Hitler, are currently in Development Hell.

Not to be confused with the other Hebrew Hammer.

This film provides examples of these tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Chief Bloomenbergensteinenthal (played by Peter Coyote) dismisses the notion of Steven Spielberg being tough, because he directed E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which was Coyote's breakthrough film as an actor.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Blaxploitation films, as well as various Saving Christmas plots.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi. The jokes are based on the culture and stereotypes of American Jews, who are primarily Ashkenazi.
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: Hammer falls for a trap set off by this trope.
  • Anti-Hero: Carver is not heroic because he wants to be.
  • Bad Santa: Saint Nick the Nasty in the prologue, and Andy Dick in the main plot.
  • Badass Israeli: Chief Bloomenbergensteinenthal, complete with a Moshe Dayan-style Eyepatch of Power.
  • Badass Longcoat: The signature item of Mordechai's usual outfit.
  • Big Bad: Damien Claus, mastermind of the plot to destroy Chanukah.
  • Blaxploitation: Parodied as "Jewsploitation." The Kwanzaa Liberation Front embraces blaxploitation.
  • Blaxploitation Parody: Its already been said three or four times that this is a huge parody of Blaxploitation films.
  • The Cameo:
    • Melvin van Peebles appears as his title character in the almost-Blaxplotation classic Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.
    • Also NYC Mayor Ed Koch who the Hammer frees as well as Esther
  • Character Title
  • Condescending Compassion: The teacher at the beginning.
  • Cool Car: The Hammermobile has a sweet blue-and-white color scheme (based on the flag of Israel) and is decked out with the Star of David.
  • Daddy's Girl: Esther.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Damien Claus has the hots for Esther, but also is implied to be in a relationship with Tiny Tim.
  • Doting Parent: Mrs. Carver, stereotypically so.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Jamal, a black elf at Santa's workshop, infiltrates the Kwanzaa Liberation Front and sets Mordechai up to go to the Nazi bar, but when Damien refuses to promote him to full elf status, he goes back to the KLF and eventually becomes the new Santa Claus himself.
  • The Dragon: Tiny Tim.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Drawn out to an obscene length when the entire Kwanzaa Liberation Front draws and cocks their weapons when Carver enters their building.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When a young Mordechai enters Saint Peter, Paul, and Mary public elementary school, he is instantly bullied by a trio of children who make jokes about money, bagels, and big noses. But when a girl walks up and says her mom said his people will burn in hell if they don't accept Jesus, they were shocked by such blatant Antisemitism.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: Damien Claus actually wants to make this mandatory, by eliminating Hanukkah.
  • Evil Plan: Damien Claus usurps his father as Santa Claus and seeks to destroy every December holiday sans Christmas.
  • Eyepatch of Power: With a Star of David on it.
  • Fantastic Drug: Bootleg copies of It's a Wonderful Life.
  • 555: The JJL's phone number is 555-5555.
  • Film Noir: The scene where Esther meets Carver in his office starts as a straight example, and then devolves into parody.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Mordecai's dirty-talking to Esther consists of this.
    I want to have children with you. I want to get a good paying, stable job. I want to move to Long Island somewhere, someplace nice, fancy but not fancy shmancy. I want our children to go to private schools and take music lessons, maybe Abraham will go to Stanford. Sarah will go to an Ivy League, maybe Vassar. And afterward they will decide for themselves if they want to continue their religious studies in Israel because we will have practiced a highly effective assertive democratic style of child rearing, sprinkled with a healthy dose of liberalism. On a daily basis, I want you to tell me what to do, where to do it, and how I should live my fucking life
  • Gentile Jew-Chaser: At one point, Damien's female assistants try to seduce him, gushing about how well-read Jewish men are.
  • Going by the Matchbook: The black elf gives Carver a matchbook from Duke's, telling him that's where Santa will be. Of course, Duke's is actually a Neonazi skinhead bar...
  • Guns Akimbo: With shotguns.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: The ultimate Jewish weapon is guilt.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Carver draws two shotguns from his coat in Duke's.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: The Jewish Atomic Clock in Jerusalem runs on Judaium, an element so rare, it's found only in the clock. The JAC keeps time for the Jewish calendar and its holidays: Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and the Macy's 50% Off Sale.
  • Jewish American Princess: Esther.
  • Jewish Complaining:
  • Jewish Mother: Mrs. Carver
  • Jews Love to Argue: The JJL argues with each other over who to call to stop the bad guy, until Esther recommends Carver.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "The Hebrew Hammer" evokes the image of Judah Maccabee, aka "Judah the Hammer," who led the Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid Empire, the event that Hanukkah commemorates. His adversary Damien Claus is very similar to Antiochus Epiphanes of the Seleucids, who was likewise the power-hungry son of a more benevolent leader, prone to targeting Jews and trying to outlaw their customs and practices.
    • An evil son named Damien.
    • A woman named Esther, with the help of a man named Mordechai, tries to foil a tyrant's plot against Jews? Sounds familiar. Lampshaded with Mrs. Carver mentioning Purim when Esther says her name.
  • Mexican Standoff
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: The scene where Carver and Esther pretend to be gentiles to get close to Santa.
  • Noisy Guns: the Kwanzaa Liberation Front has some very noisy guns.
  • Noodle Incident: During the debate to decide what should be done about Damien Claus, Chief Bloomenbergensteinenthal protests about The Hammer getting involved and cites an 'incident at the airport with the Hare Krishna' as his reason for not wanting to recruit him.
  • N-Word Privileges: Mordechai & Rahim's first onscreen meeting:
    Mordechai: How's it goin, my nigga?
    Rahiam: How's it goin, my kike?
  • Overly Stereotypical Disguise: The Gentile disguises Mordechai and Esther wear in the Kmart.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: The other part of the ultimate Jewish weapon.
  • Perma-Stubble
  • Phrase Catcher: Remember, the fate of Hanukkah is resting on your shoulders.
  • Pimp Duds: The Hammer's usual clothes. And even Damien Claus wears a fur coat with his Santa hat when he's in full evil mode.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Damien.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Shabbat Shalom, motherfuckers!" When Adam Goldberg was first given the script, he opened to a random page, saw the line, and immediately agreed to do the film.
  • Pretty in Mink: A dame in a fur coat shows up at Hammer's office, but he tells her she wants Mike Hammer.
  • Private Detective: Hebrew Hammer Investigations. According to his credentials, Carver is a "Certified Circumsized Dick."
  • Private Eye Monologue: The Hammer gives one as Esther walks into his office, but it turns out to be a tape recorder on the desk. And it seems to segue into a sex tape.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Public Domain Character:
    • Santa Claus, though here "Santa" is a hereditary title that's passed through many generations of the Claus family.
    • An adult Tiny Tim is Damien's Dragon.
  • Rip Van Winkle: The In-Universe reason the Hammer didn't stop the rise of the Alt-Right - he retired to Albuquerque, New Mexico and got blitzed on Manischewitz wine coolers after Barack Obama assumed office in 2009.
  • Rule of Funny: Why would a Neo-Nazi bar have even a single bottle of kosher wine, no matter how neglected? To set up a joke.note 
  • Saving Christmas: While the main plot is about saving Hanukkah, the heroes are also saving Christmas from a power-mad dictator in Damien.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: The ladies helping Santa even the new one after Damien is taken down.
  • Shown Their Work: Mordechai's mother makes the point that Hanukkah is actually considered a lesser holiday in Judaism, compared to Passover or Yom Kippur.
  • Skewed Priorities: As her own son points out, Mrs. Carver is more impressed by her incontinent cat taking a dump in his DIE-A-PAH than by her son saving Hanukkah. It's not even one of the High Holidays!
  • Small Reference Pools: Played for Laughs when Mordecai tells the JJL to use its propaganda wing to highlight every Jewish holiday film to counteract Damien's anti-Semitic push.
    Chief Bloomenbergensteinenthal: So you want me to mass produce "Yentl," "Fiddler on the Roof," and Chaim Potok's "The Chosen"?
    Mordeai: Right.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical:
    • Muhammad Ali Paula Abdul Rahim passive-aggressively conveys this opinion of Jamal's behavior when he starts copping a streetwise attitude after leaving the North Pole and joining the Kwanzaa Liberation Front.
    • Also seems to be the opinion of Mordechai and Esther of the over-the-top displays in the Underground Jewish Railroad.
  • Straw Character: Wall to wall strawmen. (See description).
  • True Meaning of Christmas: Subverted at the story's climax. Mordechai tells Damien that his mistake was that he didn't understand the true meaning of Hanukkah. But when the obvious follow-up question is asked, Mordechai and Esther struggle to come up with an explanation of what the true meaning of the holiday is, exactly, not getting much beyond dreidels and latkes.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Damien assumes the position of Santa Claus after ordering the reindeer to murder the real Santa.
  • Underground Railroad: The Underground Jewish Railroad, presided over by Harriet Tubbelman, actually does run underneath the streets of New York.
  • Unflinching Walk: After the fight at Duke's.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Carver and Esther disguise themselves as gentiles to get close to Santa at a public appearance.