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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Hebrew Hammer

Shaft-like Hebrew exploitation detective spoof

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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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+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2005 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)