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Film / You Don't Mess with the Zohan

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...He'll blow you away.

A 2008 action comedy directed by Dennis Dugan and starring Adam Sandler (who co-wrote the script with Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel) as the titular Israeli super-soldier, and John Turturro as his arch-nemesis, The Phantom. (No, not that one. Or that one.)

The plot goes something like this: Zohan Dvir is an Israeli Super-Soldier, sort of a cross between Chuck Norris and Borat, who becomes tired of the Arab–Israeli Conflict. He fakes his own death, and moves to the United States, where he fulfills his life-long dream of becoming a (heterosexual) hairdresser.

Smell it, smell it, smell it, now trope it!

  • Actor Allusion:
  • An Aesop: The Arab–Israeli Conflict is meaningless outside the region and people should get along, as they are more alike than they think.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Averted. While Yiddish as a Second Language is played glaringly straight (see below), most of the Jewish people in the movie are Israeli (most notably Zohan’s friend Oori, played by Ido Mosseri).
  • America Saves the Day: Moving to America will end the Arab–Israeli Conflict! See Space Whale Aesop.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Walbridge awkwardly refers to Middle Easterners as being "brown....or khaki....or whatever color it is."
  • Arab Beoble Talk: Bizarrely averted. Hebrew sounds in this film more like Yiddish and has random kh-sounds thrown in at random (Zohan claims he’s from ‘Khaustralia’), and, while a handful of Arabic and Hebrew dialogue shows up in the film, the fake Arabic sounds somewhat like Yiddish too (e.g. the Phantom’s ‘muchentuchen’).
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The leader of the White Supremacists has a Long List of things he hates, starting with Jews, Arabs, black people, Asians, and etcetera, then quickly derailing into things like The New York Times, dogs in purses, various celebrities and long walks on the beach.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Parodied by the guy who hid grenades in boiling oil in a deep fat fryer.
  • Atrocious Alias: When hiding out in America, Zohan chooses to go by the name "Scrappy Coco" (they were the names of the dogs in the cage he was stowing away in), which has the predictable result of making everyone not take him seriously. But then he becomes famous as a hairstylist and the mockery vanishes instantly.
  • Badass Israeli: A constant Running Gag — an Israeli long released from the army and running a falafel shop in America, is certainly going to keep grenades, rocket launchers, and other heavy weaponry stashed somewhere, just in case. Also, a Mossad agent can clearly leap from the roof and do cool things with his ligaments. Just look at the poster. Zohan is not a Mossad agent; he is the Mossad agent!
  • Berserk Button: Don't spit on the Zohan. He'll throw you through the air and steal your goat.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Zohan would rather cut hair, but he'll beat your ass if you give him trouble.
  • Between My Legs: Parodied in the promotional posters.
  • Big "NO!":
  • Bilingual Bonus: Averted, subverted and played straight in the same film. Lots of the stuff said in the film is gibberishnote , Sandler uses few Hebrew words with Yiddish pronunciation, and Ido Mosseri as Oori calls the Walbridge employee a homo in legitimate Hebrew. But the most notable example of this trope is when the Phantom calls Zohan a jerknote  in Hebrew with dramatic inflection. Also, ‘puntakhat’, while it’s not an actual Hebrew word, slang or not, sounds like a corruption of ‘pot’ (vagina) and ‘takhat’ (arse).
  • Broken Ace: Zohan. He's a skilled soldier and a ladies' man, but he is very disillusioned by the conflict, enough to fake his death so he doesn't have to fight anymore.
  • Buffoonish Tomcat: While there were brief, silly scenes featuring Michael's housecat and it wasn't portrayed to be as dumb as it looks, there was an game Zohan and his friend(s) play called "Cat Sack", in which they punt it like a hacky-sack. The cat throughout every scene seems to be unharmed and cool with the kicks he's given as the cat NEVER gets irritated.
  • The Cameo: John McEnroe (in his second Sandler movie), Henry Winkler (in his third), and Mariah Carey (in a better movie than her usual). So too did George Takei, and Bruce Vilanch.
  • Camp Straight: Several characters (including his own parents at one point) mistake Zohan for being gay.
  • Chubby Chaser: While often surrounding by young, slender women, Zohan also shows exceptional interest in older, heavier-set women. Romancing them in the back room is a standard part of his hair care service.
  • Clown Car: In the climax, there is an instance of Palestinians getting out of a taxi...waaay more than the taxi should fit.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Walbridge is an obnoxious real estate developer trying to push people out of a neighborhood he wants to acquire. He at first tries to chase them out by sending white supremacists to the area, then moves on to stoking existing racial tensions when the first plan fails.
  • Eats Babies: In a parody of the iconic Rocky Training Montage, Phantom wakes up early, cracks some eggs into a glass, and drinks the live chicks inside. He also punches a heavy bag, then a side of beef, then a live cow. (He wasn't expecting the cow to moo back.)
  • Embarrassing First Name: Phantom is embarrassed by his real name, Fatoush, until the end.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Zohan gives himself the name "Scrappy Coco" in America to everyone else's amusement. He stowed away in the cargo compartment on a jet and hid in a dog cage to get through customs and such, and the dogs' owner had named them Scrappy and Coco.
  • Evil Counterpart: In terms of super-soldier capabilities The Phantom is this to Zohan until they set aside their differences and The Phantom redeems himself.
  • Faking the Dead: Zohan resorts to feigning death by grenade to start a new life in America.
  • Fauxreigner: Zohan and Phantom take out a mob of Southern rednecks disguised as stereotypical Arab terrorists and Hasidic Jews (so that the Israelis and Palestinians would each think the other ethnic group was vandalizing their shops).
  • Feel No Pain: Phantom attacks Zohan with an oar, only for Zohan to shrug it off, claiming that he feels no pain. The two of them then get into a brief competition of who's better at not feeling pain, with Phantom having a fish bite him on the neck and Zohan sticking that same fish down the front of his trunks.
  • Fulton Street Folly: The Israeli and Palestinian immigrants' neighborhood is located in Lower Manhattan.
  • Gag Penis: Zohan has a notable bulge in his pants, which he uses at one point to scratch a record. Later shown that most of the bulge is being made up by his pubic hair in two separate scenes.
  • Gargle Blaster: Fizzy Bubbelech, apparently. Gail's son took one sip and found himself having severe diarrhea, but the Arab and Israeli characters drink it casually and Zohan can down a bottle in less than a second.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:invoked An in-story example. Israelis and Palestinians love three things: Mariah Carey, hacky sack, and disco.
  • Global Ignorance: Gail gets Australia confused with South Africa.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Zohan just wants to make everyone silky smooth, and Phantom just wants to sell shoes.
  • An Immigrant's Tale: A story of an Israeli coming to New York City to escape his problems and fulfill The American Dream, only to encounter new ones with his past following close behind him.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: It is never explained how Zohan and the Phantom are capable of the superhuman feats they display. Feats including: Super-Strength, Super-Speed, Nigh-Invulnerability, sticking to the ceiling, contortionism, remote control over severed limbs and glass-shattering chanting.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: This is what Zohan tries to tell Dalia, and what she in turn tries to tell him, in response to the unfortunate ethnically charged cock-blocking. However, it turns out that the xenophobia goes deeper than expected: Dalia comes from a terrorist family, and The Phantom is her brother.
  • Jaded Professional: Zohan is tired of fighting in a war where nothing he does seems to matter. He complains about capturing the Phantom only a few months before only to have him again after he was traded back and got up to his old tricks.
  • Kick the Dog: Played for Laughs. The crazed white supremacist threatening to blow up the neighborhood also brought a cage of adorable puppies just to blow them up as well.
    James O'Skanlon: I'm gonna blow up this whole block. I'm gonna blow you up, I'm gonna blow up these puppies, and we all go to hell together, because I HATE these puppies!
  • Large Ham: The Phantom hams it up as only John Turturro can. "I KEEEEEELL THE ZOHAAAN!"
  • Likes Older Women: Age is no object to the Zohan; since most of the women whose hair he styles are on the older side, he ends up sleeping with a lot of old ladies.
  • Living Legend: The Zohan is beloved by the Israeli people and both hated and feared by the Palestinian people. Fatoush Hakbarah is his Palestinian reflection.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Zohan becomes unable to perform for his customers after going out with Dalia. Michael's mother suggests it's because he's falling for her.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Zohan and Phantom are both able to make a sound that although harmless on their own, when combined they create a legendary sonic attack that can destroy glass, blow electric connections, and pop breast implants like balloons.
  • Magical Realism: No one really bats an eyelash towards the cartoonishly superhuman feats Zohan and Phantom perform.
  • Manchild: Michael - for one thing, he wears a turtleneck and orders milk when Zohan takes him to a dance club.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: crossed with Lock-and-Load Montage
  • Mistaken for Gay: When Zohan confesses his true passion to his family and friends, they immediately assume he's gay.
  • Mooning: When Michael arrives home from work, his first sight is the beefy bare backside of his mother, whose skirt is in disarray while she makes out with Zohan. The lady appears to be played in this scene by a double, and not principal actress Lainie Kazan.
  • Our Founder: The Rocky montage ends with the Phantom running up a slope instead of steps, reaching a statue of himself.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Michael is horrified when his mom starts sleeping with Zohan.
  • Parody Sue: Zohan does impossible wire-fu martial arts, feels zero pain, has a massive budgie stuffed down his trousers, and is attracted mainly to every woman besides his love interest, all Played for Laughs.
  • Politically Incorrect Villains: The white supremacist/survivalist types recruited by Walbridge to terrorize the residents on the block where he wants to build his shopping mall - and, when that doesn't work, to vandalize everyone's shops and make it appear as if the two immigrant groups were targeting each other.
    • Their leader, who like the rest of the far-right terrorists actively tries to kill the hero and his friends and also tries to sabotage innocent people's businesses is very notable as his homophobia is exaggerated to the point that he's homophobic in both the literal sense AND in the modern definition.
  • Pressure Point: When applying at a kid's hair salon, Zohan unintentionally causes a child to cry and uses a Vulcan nerve pinch to instantly knock him out. This causes the rest of the kids in the salon to cry as well. Zohan is completely unfazed by this.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: The jokes and sight gags do not let up. In one scene they are shown playing hacky-sack with a cat for no discernible reason.
  • Raw Eggs Make You Stronger: The Phantom hatches eggs and eats live full-formed chicks from them.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Zohan and the Phantom are the coolest men alive. They both love Mariah Carey and dream of being a hairdresser and shoe salesman respectively.
  • Really Gets Around: Being something of a James Bond parody, Zohan has sex with nearly every woman in the film, including the "old biddies" that come into his hair salon.
  • Rule of Cool: It's pretty much directly stated that Zohan and Phantom can give uppercuts with their feet, control severed body parts, and walk on ceilings because once you become cool enough you can just do that kind of thing. Zohan can even uppercut with one foot while Phantom takes his shoe size and thus has his other leg raised in the air. That's right, Zohan can stand when both his feet are in the air.
  • Rule of Funny: The only way to describe the very impossible stunts in this movie, such as Zohan tying a guy's limbs to make him look like a pretzel or being able to stand with both feet in the air while kicking an ass and getting his shoe size.
  • Running Gag: Using hummus for everything, up to and including toothpaste and putting out fires.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: The Phantom is surprisingly easy to startle.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: One of the posters features this, with "Adam Sandler Is About to Blow-Dry You!"
  • Serious Business: Even the lowly job of sweeping the hair clippings is this to Zohan.
  • Sex Goddess: Zohan considers old Mrs. Greenhouse as one, claiming she's "An angel with the flexibility of a circus freak". In the Unrated Edition, he says she's "An angel with a magic throat".
  • Shoot the Messenger: A non-lethal example. The poor soldier that told the Zohan that the Israli government gave back the Phantom got kicked into the side of the wall. He took it in good stride at least, considering he gave the Zohan a thumbs up when the medics carried him off.
  • Small Reference Pools: Surprisingly, the supposedly sophisticated Walbridge doesn't know what hummus is — this despite the fact that hummus is available in most large American cities, and not just in Semitic communities.
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: When Zohan asks Oori if he has a job for him until he can find a barbershop, Oori denies him, citing that everyone else at the store had dreams too before they settled selling electronics and that he doesn't want to see that happen to him.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The conclusion for the movie paints the picture that the ultimate solution to the Arab–Israeli Conflict is for everybody in the region to move to America.
  • Speaking Like Totally Teen: The hairstyling book from the '80s is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Somewhat. The title goes with "The Zohan", but in the movie people are perfectly fine with calling him just "Zohan".
  • Spotting the Thread: Dalia was able to tell that Zohan was lying about who he was after he downed a bottle of fizzy bubblech in less than a second.
  • Super-Soldier: Played for laughs with Zohan, but Zohan is still tough as other examples would be expected to be.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: The model of Walbridge's planned shopping mall.
  • Title Drop: The title is said by Zohan's friend after Zohan beats several strong men and a bull in tug of war singlehanded. In fact, it's actually the very first line in the movie.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Zohan loves hummus. He puts it on everything he eats and even brushes his teeth with it. Also, Fizzy Bubbelech, of which he can down an entire bottle in less than a second.
  • Trumplica: Interestingly, an example created before making characters based on Trump (or, in this case, parodying Trump to an exaggerated degree) was popular. Grant Walbridge hits all the stops. The tropes throughout this page show him to be a loud, obnoxious racist real estate developer trying to push people out of their neighborhood while obsessed with garish displays of wealth, including his supermodel girlfriend's perfectly symmetrical breast implants. Unlike most versions, he's shorter than the protagonists and in reasonably good shape, with an overall silver futuristic motif.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Much of Zohan's character and background were taken straight from Sandler's former hair stylists.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Okay, so it's "Lather. Rinse. Save the world." Same difference.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Zohan's appeal to his neighbors when it looks as if an inter-ethnic war is about to break out.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Zohan and some other Israelis pepper their speech with Yiddishisms in a manner no actual Israeli would, certainly not in that age group, and certainly not if they’re not even Ashkenazi. (Though it just adds an extra level of hilarity to the film if you are Israeli.)