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You Don't Mess With The Zohan

Updated on August 7, 2015

I give this motion picture two stars. Obviously, the story of an IsraeliMossad agent that decides to become a hair dresser is supposed to be comedy, and the movie did succeed in that department. However, there were philosophically unsound moments, which caused the film to only earn two stars. Some will argue that I may be reading too much into this movie, for it was only supposed to be a comedy. I agree, the movie was only supposed to be a comedy, and that is the exact problem. This movie could have still been a comedy without the immoral messages, which include: passivity in the face of attack, business and money are evil, and collectivity is virtuous.

There were two moments that put me over the edge in disliking this film. The passivity in the face of attack was towards the end of the film, much later than the first point, but this is the moment I drew the line. Zohan (Adam Sandler), once again, comes face to face with his arch nemesis, Phantom (John Turturro), a terrorist. Zohanexplains he will not attack Phantom. Somewhat of a problem here. Phantom is a terrorist; however, Phantom has not yet directly attackZohan, so it is actually alright. It would be like if a terrorist came face to face with the average American Joe in a mall, and Joe said he would not attack the terrorist. The terrorist is still vicious, that is part of the definition of a terrorist, but he has not directly attacked or is not going to immediately attack Joe. It would be more appropriate for a soldier or police officer to attack the terrorist. However, then the scene sours when Phantom punches Zohan several times, and Zohan repeats that he still will not attack. This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. If the terrorist tries to stab Joe, then Joe should absolutely fight back. Phantom has initiated force againstZohan; therefore, Zohan should defend himself to preserve his life. The basic message is that suffering through passivity is more virtuous than preserving one's self. The other problem is that this movie is a not so subtle analogy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this scene it is argued that the conflict can only be resolved if one side passively accepts attack from the other side. Accepting destruction is not a resolution.

The next problem is the fan favorite evil business man. I will admit, the business man was actually a vicious man. However, the movie was not identifying the actions as vicious or the man himself as vicious. The film was identifying business as vicious. The business man wore the stereotypical pin stripped suit. He owned large glass towers. He had his business meetings over viewing city skylines. He rode in fancy cars. The man also wanted to construct and create more buildings on the sites of older communities. Obviously, he wants to buy out these old structures, so he can own the property to construct his new building: a large glass mall with roller coast. None of these things are vicious. None of them. Not a single one is wrong. Actually, the desire to construct, create, and produce is a virtue. Furthermore, tall glass buildings are signs of accomplishments. However, then there is a host of problems with this business man. He uses violence to vacate the former land owners. He loves his girlfriend only for her physical appearance. He bases his success on how well his girlfriend looks, not on the things he has produce.Yadda, yadda, yadda. Unfortunately, the movie has no counter business man that is virtuous. There is no discussion among the characters explaining that business is not bad, but this particular man and his actions are. The movie sets out to characterize business as the vicious characteristic. This is incorrect.

Oddly enough, the community, which is supposed to be the hero against business, turns into a business at the end of the film. The community actually builds a mall. Not the same sleek glass metal mall with roller coast. No, that is a symbol of true business. They build a small brick mall. It is supposed to be the people's mall, thecollective's mall. The mall of the selfless opposed to the mall of the selfish. This leads me into my last problem, the first act that made me say, "This movie isn't very good." Early on, when the business man is trying to buy out the old property owners, he raises their rent. He already actually owns their land, but probably some ridiculous state law does not allow him to evict them even though he actually owns their land. The business man's associates go to Zohan's hair salon, and the owner, Dalia (Emmanuelle Chriqui) turns over an enormous role of cash and say, "I choose the community." Yes, because the collective is far more important than the individual. The collective well being and happiness is undoubtedly greater than individual happiness.

Also, by turning over that role of cash the movie is arguing that money is also evil. This of course, means that life is vicious and that the characters loathe themselves. As I have said in previous posts, money is only the symbol of one's labor. Since labor is what earns people items, money is used to delay this earning. Therefore, one does not have to labor to produce a computer. He can labor by writing a novel, receive payment for his labor, then spend the money on a computer. If money is vicious, then producing, creating, and laboring are vicious.

However, this directly contradicts one of the two virtuous messages of the film. The fact that Zohan quits his job as a Mossad agent to style hair implies that it is virtuous to desire to produce, create, and labor in ways that make one happy. Unfortunately, one should not receive compensation for his labor. Therefore, people should labor without reward. Zohan should create great hair styles, but not be rewarded for his accomplishments.

Another virtuous message of the film is that America is a place to start over. This specifically refers to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In America Zohan finds that the Israelis and Palestinians live across the street from one another without fighting. This is a fine argument to make, for it is not arguing that this is only a possibility in America. The true argument being made is that every man is an individual, and he is not tied to the sins of his ancestors, relatives, neighbors, etc. Therefore, two people of warring factions can become friends if they understand which actions in the wars are the truly vicious ones and which ones are truly virtuous. They also can decide not to participate. Blood relation is not a reason to use force. Unfortunately, this message is completely contradicted by the argument in favor of collectivism, the anti-business stance, and the promotion of passivity in the face of attack. This movie should have just stuck to comedy.


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