The Hebrew Hammer (2003)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Religious Comedy, Parody/Spoof, Holiday Film  |   Release Date - Dec 19, 2003 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
  • AllMovie Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Share on

Review by Derek Armstrong

There had never been a mainstream parody that exclusively focused its good-natured barbs on Judaism, and for that reason alone, The Hebrew Hammer should be a film of interest in a comedy spectrum replete with Jewish performers. Getting it released was another matter -- the film's limited theatrical run was piggybacked on Comedy Central's world premiere of a version truncated for TV, part of an exclusive broadcast deal signed by the cable network. Regardless of its choppy path into existence, The Hebrew Hammer was worth the wait, as it wickedly matches a cheeky Mel Brooks-style script with a performance by Adam Goldberg that harnesses blaxploitation cool and kvetching in a single winning persona. Sure, there's plenty about it that's not quite ready for prime time -- like in Airplane! or The Naked Gun, many of the more obvious jokes and puns demand to be included simply because they'd never before been committed to celluloid. There's a lot that would seem sketchy coming out of the mind of anyone but a Jewish writer, such as a "Jewdar," which makes a positive ethnic identification by detecting someone stooping over for loose change. The concept of circumcision makes its share of appearances as well. But as minorities are granted unofficial license to mock their own kind, the jokes don't carry any palpable offense. By the time Goldberg has unleashed his secret weapon on Santa's unsuspecting heir (Andy Dick, having a catty blast), viewers should be glad that writer/director Jonathan Kesselman decided to go all out. In a safe zone of self-deprecation, he finds his way to some good jabs at "gentiles" and Kwanzaa-celebrating blacks along the way.