After mysteriously positive reviews from unexpected quarters for You Don't Mess With the Zohan, I was worried that I had missed some kind of boat, a possibility that a commenter on my original review raised in passing in her thoughts on the film: Might there may have been plot points or laughs in the film I simply couldn't decipher because they called on some aspect of Israeli and/or Jewish culture I didn't get? (I grew up on the outskirts of the outskirts of a steeltown; until I hit 18, my primary exposures to Jewish culture were Mordecai Richler novels and Woody Allen Movies.) Was there a chance that deciphering some of the film's more baroque references and invented cross-cultural communication might yield laughs previously unknown to me? Was I too much of a goy to feel the joy?

The good news is that if I actually wanted to test this theory, Israeli film critic Yair Raveh has posted a great "Silky Smooth Dictionary to Zohanisms," at his blog Cinemascope, and it's a great demonstration of how minor works can inspire major scholarship. Raveh's glossary provides detailed notes on the etymology and cultural history behind a number of phrases casually tossed off during You Don't Mess With the Zohan, including "yofi-tofi" (slang for "hunky dory"), "Imma" (Hebrew for "mother") and even "Fizzy Bubbelech" (invented, according to Raveh, who then gives a brief, brisk product history of orange soda in Israel during the '70s and '80s that may have inspired "Fizzy Bubbelech"). The bad news is that if I actually wanted to test this theory, I'd actually have to see You Don't Mess With the Zohan again ... something I (and, judging by the film's second-week 57.5% drop-off at the box office, many other people, also) have no intention of ever doing.