When the very first trailers hit the Web for You Don't Mess with the Zohan, the latest Adam Sandler comedy readying for its North American release this Friday, more than a few movie buffs caught the whiff of something familiar. There were some who saw in Sandler's shaggy new look and scattered speech patterns, similarities to Borat, the fictional Kazakhstani television celebrity played by Sacha Baron Cohen in the hit 2006 comedy. Others saw the wording of the title and the casting of John Turturro as Sandler's arch-nemesis and were reminded of 1998's The Big Lebowski.
In that cult hit from the Coen Brothers, Turturro had a small, but memorable part as Jesus Quintana, the Latino bowler, who in perhaps the movie's most iconic scene stares down The Dude (Jeff Bridges), Lebowski's sloppy hero. "You said it man," Jesus barks at one point, trying to intimidate The Dude, "Nobody f---s with the Jesus." It is a line of dialogue still repeated today by giggling college students in their dorms or waiting in line outside midnight screenings and it seemed to play a factor in the naming of You Don't Mess with the Zohan.
Most great (and great-ish and not-so-great) art finds inspiration in what has come before, even if it's just in the eyes of the viewers. So in hopes of understanding the style and strut of Zohan an undercover Israeli Mossad agent who leaves a life of violence to set up shop as a New York hairdresser we take a look back at two other cult cinematic icons: Borat, and Jesus. (Full-disclosure: This kind of article was totally ripped off, er, inspired by Entertainment Weekly)
DISTRACTING FACIAL HAIR:
Zohan: Hacky sack
Zohan: Enters a Paul Mitchell salon and demands a job: is mocked by the employees as he disco dances his way out of the shop
Borat: Sings the national anthem at a southern rodeo, gets booed by the crowd as he deliberately botches the words.
Jesus: Walks his new California neighborhood to introduce himself as a sex offender
Zohan: Rubs his crotch on his female customers during their shampoo and rinse
Jesus: Performs a celebratory dance after making a strike on the bowling lanes
Zohan: Mariah Carey, who shows up for a quick performance
Borat: Pamela Anderson, who runs out of a book signing screaming
USING THE TONGUE:
Zohan: Flirts with a customer in the salon and licks off her earrings
Jesus: Licks his bowling ball for luck
BEST USE OF BIRTHDAY SUIT:
Zohan: Nude while barbecuing on the beach
Borat: Naked as he streaks through the annual meeting of the Mortgage Brokers' Association
FUN WITH FIREARMS:
Zohan: Longs to put down the guns for the scissors of a hairstylist
Borat: Announces to a giddy rodeo audience that his nation of Kazakhstan support America's "war of terror"
Jesus: Threatens friends of The Dude by saying he'll steal away their guns, stick them where the sun don't shine, and "pull the trigger 'til it goes click"
FILM'S QUOTABLE QUOTE:
Zohan: "No one giggles at the Zohan"
Borat: "It's niiiiice!"
Jesus: "You said it man, no one f---s with the Jesus"