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Comedy Central Home Video presents
The Hebrew Hammer (2003)

"Attention all K-Mart shoppers, there are Jews in Aisle 12."
- Voice on Intercom

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: November 23, 2004

Stars: Adam Goldberg, Andy Dick, Judy Greer
Other Stars: Peter Coyete, Mario Van Peebles, Tony Cox, Rachel Dratch, Nora Dunn
Director: Jonathan Kesselman

MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual references, and drug use
Run Time: 01h:24m:12s
Release Date: November 16, 2004
UPC: 097368802544
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-A-A B-

DVD Review

If anything, you have to give the makers of The Hebrew Hammer credit for making a film solely aimed at the celebration of Hanukkah, but they earn demerits for making a film that fails to live up to its expectations. Billed as a "Jewsploitation" epic (brilliant), the film has fun reinventing the genre of family holiday films with a Jewish slant, and it offers up small tidbits of humor and fun that it becomes disheartening when the overall film is something of a clunker.

"Who's the kike who won't cop out when there's gentiles all about?" The answer is the Hebrew Hammer (Goldberg), a "certified circumsized dick" (as in, you know, detective) who keep the streets safe and delivers his own brand of Jewish justice for his 'chood. (If all of this seems particularly offensive and childish you are only half right—the film shows a genuine affection for Judiasm but equally enjoys hurling jokes at it.) The Hammer is now forced to save his people from Damien (Dick), the son of Santa who arranges a hostile take over from his father and has plans to wipe out all Christmas competition forever.

That, in a nutshell, is the general concept.To be truthful, the film never really relies on its story, and may just be better for it. The gags come at a fast rate and while some stick, others land with a thud, and a weak subplot involving the Hammer's mother goes on too long, while some gags are far too obvious. This type of shtick has been done better (Undercover Brother), but writer/director Jonathan Kessleman does get points for including a sadistic son of Santa and the head of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front (Peebles).

At the film's core is its satire, how we parlay Christmas into a celebration for mankind while forgetting about other cultures; but at its worse, it is parody and it is here that the film fails. The overall aspect of the plot is admittedly hilarious and the jokes come best when they are fresh—because of this the film first 20 minutes will have you in stitches—but after a while things become repetitive. There are fun visuals, such as the headquarters of the Jewish Justice League housed in a large Pentagon-like building in the shape of the Star of David, and the Hammer cruisng along in a tricked-out Cadillac.

A week love interest for the Hammer, played by Judy Greer, is underused and after the initial set-up of the story the film becomes more of a loosely connected collection of scenes rather than a flowing and cohesive plot. The goings are greatly helped by the performance of Goldberg in a role that will hopefully grant him the road to stardom he so richly deserves. He plays it like he was born to it, which means that maybe he is secretly The Hebrew Hammer....nah, couldn't be.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The Hebrew Hammer is presented in its original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and the result is an impressive transfer. Sharpness and detail are dead on, with the image possessing a very film-like look. In some ways the image has a very three-dimensional look. Colors are crisp and vibrant throughout with no bleeding; darker colors are very deep with no grain. There are a few slight instances of edge enhancement and pixelation, but they are hardly worth noting.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is surprising in that it excels every expectation I had. The film offers a rich and deep track with crisp and clear dialogue and some nice use of the split surround speakers. Both of the rear channels offer some nice ambient sounds with terrific directionality while the .1 LFE track offers some deep and booming bass. This is a great track.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by actor Adam Goldberg, writers Josh and Jonathan Kessleman, and Sandra Kessleman
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag Reel
Extras Review: The most notable extra feature is a commentary track featuring Goldberg, writers Jonathan and Josh Kessleman and their mother, Sandra. The track is very funny throughout with a nice balance of technical information and general random humor. The foursome keeps things going, the track never gets boring, and some of the tidbits offered by Sandra will have you laughing as hard as anything in the film. A gag reel is also included but is nothing special.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

I was schvitzing while writing this review, torn over whether or not I actually liked it. There are moments that are incredibly funny, while others are lame retreads of other films that have done this sort of thing better. In the end, it is a decent rental.


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