Jews are fun to laugh at. From Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint to Seinfeld to Adam Sandler's "The Hanukkah Song (versions ad nauseum)," the rule is tried and true: laugh at a Jew and you will be laughing for a long time.
Jonathan Kesselman's The Hebrew Hammer -- which first aired both theatrically and on Comedy Central last December -- is no Portnoy's Complaint, but it certainly has moments with high enough humor quotients to grant it a place in the coveted list of worthwhile Jew-making-fun-of-Jew productions, albeit a low one.
In a Jewsploitation film whose plot runs like a self-conscious cross between the politically incorrect Blaxploitation films of the '70s and an inappropriately long SNL skit, almost all of the laughs are cheap, and iffy, in our politically correct culture. If Jews were not members of a minority currently so accepted by and successful in mainstream America, it is difficult to imagine that this movie could be made.
When a pro-Hannukah/ Kwanzaa Santa Claus is killed by his evil son, Damian (Andy Dick), the Jewish Justice League invites radical Mordechai Jefferson Hammer (Adam Goldberg) back into its ranks for the specific purpose of saving Hannukah-Christmas relations.
From tried-and-true jokes (such as a Jew whose last name is Bloomenbergansteinthal) to more "nuanced" humor (if a quip about a security program that requires one to state all six items on a seder plate in alphabetical order, demonstrate musical aptitude, confirm your circumcision and show your capability for whining in order to prove oneself Jewish can be considered nuanced), Hammer strikes some funny chords.
It isn't brilliant, but it's more than good enough.
The bonus features on the newly released DVD don't really make the movie more of a must-have.
The "gag reel" isn't that funny, and the presence of the original short just sort of makes one want to acknowledge the fact that a few (hundred) scenes could have easily been cut from the full length feature.
Hammer is the kind of movie that's worthwhile seeing once -- it really is funny -- but which doesn't really stand the test of time (meaning simply that getting through the whole film and the bonus features requires much more time than the laughs are worth).