Israeli secret service agent Zohan (Adam Sandler) has his beach vacation cut short when a helicopter arrives and transports him back to headquarters for an emergency assignment. He is needed to capture his nemesis, the Phantom (John Turturro). Zohan is sick of fighting and dreams of becoming a hairstylist in America. When he has his showdown with the Phantom, he fakes his own death and escapes to New York by stowing away in the cargo hold of a plane. When he lands in America, he changes his identity, telling people he is an Australian named Scrappy Coco.
Zohan/Scrappy Coco heads straight to Manhattan. He takes a room with a young man called Michael (Nick Swardson) and his mother Gail (Lainie Kazan). Zohan is soon recognised and befriended by a fellow Israeli, Oori (Ido Mossri). Oori helps Zohan to get a job in a hair salon that caters for older women. Before long, Zohan finds himself attracted to his Palestinian boss, Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui).
Unfortunately Zohan is also recognised by a Palestinian cab driver, Salim (Rob Schneider). He immediately puts plans to bomb the salon into action. To further complicate matters, a wealthy developer named Walbridge (Michael Buffer) is pressuring and intimidating Dalia and the other shop owners into selling their businesses so that he can build a new shopping mall.
When Salim’s bomb attempt fails, he contacts the Phantom and informs him that Zohan is alive. A showdown between Zohan and The Phantom is arranged.
Palestinian and Israeli cultures; terrorism
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan contains stylised action violence throughout but no visual blood and gore. For example:
- A man in army uniform shoots a machine gun at shadow targets.
- Zohan kicks a chair with a man sitting in it with such force that the chair and man smash into a wall. This causes electrical sparks to erupt. We see the man being carried out on a stretcher.
- During a confrontation with the Phantom, we see Zohan jumping from a moving car and crashing through windows.
- Zohan kicks a man through a wall and another man over a wall.
- The Phantom jumps through a window and on to a dog’s head.
- Palestinian children throw rocks at Zohan, who catches the rocks and then moulds them into the figure of a dog.
- The Phantom pulls a man off a Jet Ski and punches another man sitting in a kayak. He smashes Zohan across the face with a kayak paddle. During the same scene, both the Phantom and Zohan brag to each other how they feel no pain. To prove his point, the Phantom pick up a piranha and attaches it to his neck. Zohan puts one down the front of his shorts.
- A man tells Zohan how his brothers and sisters were hacked to death.
- In a road rage incident, a bully threatens and intimidates a man. Zohan intervenes by grabbing the bully’s finger and twisting it, causing the bully to wince in pain. Zohan then kicks the bully several times in the face.
- On a couple of occasions, Zohan forces men into ‘living pretzels’ by twisting various body parts. We do not see the actual act, just the end result.
- Zohan causes a small boy to burst into tears. In an attempt to get the boy to sit still, Zohan tells the boy the hairdresser might slip with the scissors and cut his jugular vein, causing blood to spill over the floor and the boy to be dead in five minutes. He also tells the boy that by his age he had killed seven men. When the boy doesn’t stop crying, Zohan pinches his neck, causing him to become unconscious.
- One scene has images of a man cutting off another man’s hand. The severed hand picks up a knife and then stabs a man in the back (no blood and gore).
- A man drives a limousine in a reckless manner, swerving all over the road. The man in the back is violently thrown around inside the car. When the limo comes to a stop and the passenger gets out, he immediately vomits over the ground.
- Zohan stabs himself in the thigh with a pair of scissors.
- A man spits in Zohan’s face.
- A group of men play Hacky Sack with a live cat.
- We see the Phantom cracking two eggs into a glass with live chicks coming out of the eggs. The implication is that the Phantom then drinks the chicks.
- One man tells another man ‘I’ll cut your eyes out.’
- Zohan kicks and punches three men in the face, knocking them unconscious. While they are unconscious, another man kicks them in the stomach.
- A group of Palestinians phone a Hezbollah helpline for instructions on how to build a bomb. They are told to ring back when ongoing peace negotiations fall through. They eventually make what they believe to be a bomb out of Neosporin ointment, which they think is an explosive.
- The Phantom punches Zohan in the face and then hits Zohan across the face with a metal bar.
- When confronting several arsonists, Zohan bangs their heads together and kicks them in the face several times.
- A man threatens a group of Israelis and Palestinians with blowing up a bomb while holding a puppy.
- The Phantom and Zohan use their voices to create a sonic force. The force propels one man hundreds of feet through the air to crash through a window and land in the middle of a group of seated men. The force also defuses a bomb, shatters windows and causes several buildings to explode.
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan contains frequent overtly sexual jokes, references and innuendo throughout. For example:
- Zohan makes several sly sexual references to sexual acts and body parts. For example he says, ‘My schnitzel is about to burst’ and ‘My schnitzel will come out of your poopy’.
- After Zohan saves a young man from a road rage bully, the young man asks Zohan ‘What are you, bionic?’ Zohan replies, ‘No, I only like the girls’.
- After having sex with Michael’s mother, Zohan explains to Michael how it is OK for him to have sex with his mother. Then he tells Michael, ‘I have your mother one more time and then we go’.
- A man makes the comment, ‘My penis doesn’t go there’.
- At one point a woman is told, ‘You look very bangable’.
- Zohan uses crude language to decribe the body of an elderly woman whose hair he is cutting.
- One of Zohan’s elderly female clients refers to her haircut as ‘orgasmic’.
- Zohan discusses his pubic hair with other characters.
- Zohan asks one of his clients if she would like a ‘cut and bang’.
- Zohan’s elderly clients talk about having sex with him. Zohan also uses crude language to describe sex with his elderly clients.
- At one point, Dalia is referred to as a ‘Palestinian muffin’.
- Michael’s mother Gail tells Zohan that she uses Neosporin ointment for treating cuts and genital sores.
- Walbridge refers crudely to his female partner’s body.
- A group of Israeli and Palestinian men stand around talking about the sexual qualities of various American presidents’ wives.
- A Palestinian man asks the Phantom if he could sleep with his wives, and uses silly, crude language to talk about sex.
- A man says to a woman, ‘Beg your cleavage’s pardon’.
- One of the characters make a negative remark about gay men.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There is infrequent use of substances in this movie. For example:
- Zohan appears to have cravings for a non-alcoholic fizzy middle-eastern drink.
- There are images of wine glasses filled with red wine on a dinner table.
- A street sign depicts a hookah-style pipe.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie. For example:
- The opening scene, a beach barbecue contained images of several women wearing brief bikinis. During the scene Zohan is depicted naked with his crotch remaining obscured by bench tops. We see Zohan’s naked chest, legs, back and buttock with Zohan dancing and shaking his bare buttocks.
- Zohan lies naked on the beach with a Hacky sack ball caught between the cheeks of his buttocks. He propels it into the air using his buttock muscles. We see him do the same trick with a fish.
- A bikini-clad woman rubs her body over Zohan’s back.
- Zohan is naked in several other scenes, including one scene when he is cutting Michael’s mother’s hair. We see his naked back and buttocks reflected in a mirror. Michael’s mother, who is wearing a smock, stands up and turns around to hug Zohan, the smock falling open to reveal her naked back and buttocks.
- A woman wearing a bikini pours soft drink over her breasts in a suggestive manner
- Zohan sleeps on his back on a bed wearing only boxer shorts. He has an exaggerated bulge in the front of his shorts.
- Standing in front of a glass door looking into a hair salon, Zohan groans and starts to thrust his pelvis against the glass. Inside the salon are several women wearing short shorts and tops that reveal cleavage.
- Michael walks in on his mother and Zohan. Michael’s mother is wearing a bra only while other body parts are obscured by pieces of furniture. Zohan is bare-chested and pulling up his shorts.
- Zohan uses a vacuum cleaner to suck a woman’s clothed breasts and nipples.
- Zohan has a personal salute that involves him tapping his chest with his fist followed by tapping his groin with his fist. He does this several times. In one scene, we see Zohan’s penis underneath his pants, moving side to side as if waving good buy.
- All of Zohan’s clients are elderly woman. While he is shampooing hair, we see Zohan using his mouth and tongue to suck an earring from one client’s ear. He then licks her plunging cleavage. Zohan massages his clients’ hair in an erotic manner, licking one woman’s wet hair while dribbling shampoo from his mouth onto another woman’s hair. He repeatedly thrusts his pelvis into his clients’ shoulders and faces. We see an elderly woman licking lotion from the nipples of Zohan’s naked chest. We see a woman who is being attended by Zohan rubbing her hands up and down the front of her body. Zohan washes women’s hair in his boxer shorts with the clients putting dollar bills in the waistband.
- After cutting their hair, Zohan takes his elderly clients into a back room. We hear the sounds of moaning, with the wall shaking and items on falling off shelves as a result. Women stumble out of the room in various states of dishevelment. Zohan buttons his shirt in the background.
- In one scene Zohan teaches Michael how to sexually arouse female clients.
- Zohan pulls open his pants and invites another man to look at his pubic hair. He also shows his pubic hair to a doctor.
- Two elderly women wearing black leather fetish gear sit in chairs while waiting for Zohan to cut their hair.
- We see the Phantom lying on a large bed surrounded by 20 women clad in bikini-like underwear. The women rub their hands over the Phantom’s body.
- A woman’s breasts burst when a sonic sound wave is sounded.
None of concern
This movie contains mild to medium-level coarse language, some put-downs and racist comments.
Ideas to discuss with your children
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan is a comedy that satirises both Israeli and Palestinian cultures and the world of hairdressing. Much of the humour comes from stereotypes and crude sexual jokes.
The main messages to take from this movie are that it is OK to follow your dreams regardless of what other people think. Also all people should be respected on personal merit and treated as individuals. People should not be feared or treated unfairly as a result of their ethnic or cultural background.
This movie could also give you the chance to discuss with your children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as Zohan’s promiscuous lifestyle, his attitude towards women, and ethnic stereotyping.