Two movies

This last weekend I saw two movies that were perfect opposites. They weren’t even oil and water, they were more like oil and armadillo. One was Tamara Jenkins’ exquisite indie film “The Savages”. The other was the Adam Sandler vehicle “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.”

I enjoyed both thoroughly, and I found myself thinking what an amazing world this is, where a viewer can access, and heartily enjoy, two such disparate forms of entertainment. For those of you who haven’t seen it, “The Savages” is a dark, subtle character study, somehow Brechtian and romantic all at once. With the finest acting duo you might ever see on screen – Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney – making beautiful dystopian music together. Every scene between them is a study in perfection, built upon carefully woven layers of close psychological observation and misdirection. Beautiful and deeply moving, like a Mahler symphony.

“Zohan”, on the other hand, is not so much a Mahler symphony as a Silly Symphony. Rude, crude, and in your face funny, it smashes its comic target square on the jaw and keeps on punching. Ostensibly a comic farce about an Israeli counterterrorist, it’s actually about the U.S., and our country’s strange fantasies and misguided notions about Zionists, Palestinians, the conflict in the Middle East, and our own peculiar immigrant dreams.

For once Adam Sandler is going after a target he knows really well – our crazy American fantasy about Zionism. I found myself thinking back on my recent blog post about Jews versus Italians. True, American Jewish men in our culture are not supposed to be sexy. But Isreali Jewish men are. They are the warriors, rightful descendents of the Maccabees, and we look to them with a kind of fevered awe and cockeyed reverence. Sandler and company make perfect fun of that reverence.

I wonder what would happen if you were to edit these two films together, patching scenes from “The Savages” in with scenes from “Zohan”. The dark, understated indie character study, all calibrated silences and emotions too subtely devastating to speak aloud, sliced together with an over the top cultural farce about a comic superhero, absurdist icon for our time, blithely squirting Hummus over everything he sees with raw sexual abandon.

I think it could work.

Does anyone have any inspired ideas for other potential movie mashups?

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