It says something about the US that Adam Sandler has banked in excess of $380m from a slew of daft, largely unfunny comic vehicles, which have somehow managed to tickle the funny bone of mainstream America.
Once Hollywood's highest paid actor (he made $47m in 2001 alone), Sandler's biggest successes have more often than not been those which have received the biggest critical mauling.
To proclaim 'The Waterboy', 'Big Daddy', 'Little Nicky' or 'Anger Management' even 'mediocre comedies' would be to heap them with too much praise, yet Sandler's popularity as a comic star has rarely wavered. Last year's 'I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry' pulled in $184m at the box office, while 2006's 'Click' took in nearly $250m.
Criticism, seemingly, has little or no effect on Sandler's box-office draw - except, that is, when he has been critically well-received. His more 'serious' acting work in 2002's 'Punch Drunk Love' drew ecstatic reviews yet failed to recoup its budget at the box office.
Two years later, Sandler followed-up with another semi-serious role in 'Spanglish', a film which recouped only $55m of its $80m outlay, while last year's 'Reign Over Me' just scraped over its $20m outlay with a gross of $20.9m
With this in mind, studio bosses would not have been overly concerned when Sandler approached them with the pitch for his latest comedy, one which satirises tensions in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. After all, a goofy Adam Sandler - however controversial - is bullet-proof at the box-office.
In 'You Don't Mess with the Zohan' Sandler plays Zohan Dvir, a slightly camp, famous and revered Israeli Special Forces soldier who is something of a James Bond figure in his home country. Despite his high regard, however, Zohan harbours dreams of becoming a hair stylist rather than continuously fighting Palestinians, specifically his enemy The Phantom (Turturro).
While on a mission to once again capture The Phantom, the resourceful Zohan fakes his own death and moves to New York. Cue much jokes about trying to fit in and the clash of cultures. Eventually Zohan takes a job in a small New York hair salon run by a beautiful Israeli (Chriqui) where he provides 'special services' for the elderly and (here's the moralising, folks) learns that Palestinians and Israelis have more in common than they do differences. Of course, it isn't long before Zohan's enemies track him down and he's reluctantly forced to reengage with his previous life.
As a comic actor, Sandler has always proved a love-him-or-hate-him figure and enjoyment of 'You Don't Mess with the Zohan' will be dictated by just how funny you find Sandler's shtick. If, like much of America, you can't get enough of it, you're in for a treat. If, however, you can't understand just how the man has been classed as a comic, you won't leave the cinema any more enlightened.
Post-'Borat', much of the bad taste jokes fail to hit their targets with quite the same impact intended and, aside from some laughs at Mel Gibson's expense and one involving the 'Hezbollah Terrorist Hotline', there's little reason to fear your insides bursting open. That said, Chris Rock makes a fine (if brief) cameo as a Jamaican taxi driver, while Rob Schneider's goat-loving Palestinian also provides some laughs.
As for controversy surrounding the plotline? Well, to be offended would be to take the film in any way seriously which, when you see Sandler catch a fish between his bum cheeks, is all but impossible.
Although arguably a Top Five contender as Sandler's worst movie to date, 'You Don't Mess with the Zohan' is nonetheless watchable tripe to pass away the last lazy rainy days of the summer season.