February 6, 2005 -- This is a silly but funny comedy about a John Shaft-like Jewish Detective out to save Hanukkah from destruction by an evil Santa Claus. The film skewers every Jewish stereotype known to exist. I found out about some stereotypes I had never heard of. The title is a play on words, referring to the popular Mike Hammer detective books by Mickey Spillane.
The tactic used to get laughs in this film is to try anything imaginable, a strategy employed with great success by David and Jerry Zucker of “Airplane!” fame, and the many imitators that followed. The screenplay is quite inventive. It is corny and crude at times, but effective in its single-minded pursuit of laughs.
The star of the show, Adam Goldberg of “How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days”), plays the detective Mordechai Jefferson Carver. Goldberg plays it straight and carries the film. The rest of the cast is also good, particularly Judy Greer of “The Village,” who plays Esther Bloomenbergansteinthal, Carver's girlfriend, and daughter of Chief Bloomenbergansteinthal, head of the Jewish Justice League (the headquarters of which is a Pentagon-like building shaped like the Star of David. The chief is played by Peter Coyote of “Northfork.” Also good is Jamal, the elf (Tony Cox of “Bad Santa.”) Cox, you will recall, played a very similar elf in the even funnier Christmas movie spoof, “Bad Santa.” The bad Santa in this film, Damian Claus (Andy Dick of “Zoolander”) is also very effective. Damian is very evil, but in a funny way.
This extremely low-budget movie uses some inventive sets, particularly a ridiculous Jewish Atomic Clock, to good effect. Writer-director Jonathan Kesselman (yes, he is a Jew) does a great job of making jokes based on Jewish people and blacks, but not putting either group down. Instead, this film has a lot of black pride and Jewish pride. This is highlighted in a scene were Carver, following a bad tip, walks into a bar peopled with neo-Nazis. John Shaft would be proud the way Carver handles the skinheads. He doesn't back down one inch. Jewish power, sucka! This film rates a C+.
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