In Zohan Dvir, Israelis have a Hollywood hero — no matter that the soldier-turned-hairstylist played by Adam Sandler represents some of their country’s worst stereotypes.

You Don’t Mess With The Zohan looks to be a big hit in the Holy Land.

Billboards bearing the leading man’s split-legged, blowdryer-wielding image are plastered across city walls and numerous stories have been written and broadcast in the local media, which has called it the “most Israeli film in Hollywood.”

The movie tries to bridge Jews and Arabs by making fun of them. But in Israel, where the movie opened Thursday, people are drawn in more because of its Israeli protagonist and the cadre of Israeli actors and musicians featured in the film.

The Zohan, as he’s known, is Israel’s most legendary commando. He can karate kick through walls, catch bullets with his teeth and outswim jet boats; he’s equally skilled in the bedroom. But after awhile he tires of killing off terrorists and barbecuing nude with bikini-clad babes on the beach and longs for more meaning in his life.

Israelis didn’t seem too slighted by the not-too-favourable portrayal of them.

“I wasn’t insulted at all. It was funny. Exaggerated, but funny,” said Guy Ben-Yaacov, 23. “Besides, I know a few guys like Zohan.”

“I think it is almost a gesture toward Israel,” said Ido Mosseri, who plays Zohan’s pushy expat Israeli sidekick Oori. “I was a little worried because Israeli crowds are very critical, but I think they took it all in with love.”

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