Mossad satire

Film spoofing the secret service strikes the funny bone in Israel

Mossad (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There are some Israeli institutions like the army and the Mossad that are rarely laughed about in Israel. But a new movie starring Tsahi Halevy of “Fauda” fame is leaving Israelis guffawing. Directed by Alon Gur Arye, the spoof is Halevy’s first comedy role.
At a special showing for journalists and diplomats just two days after Israel’s election, the head of the Government Press Office welcomed the guests.
“We don’t know who will be the next prime minister or what kind of coalition we will have,” Nitzan Chen said. “But we know one thing: for the next two hours you will have fun and see a wonderful comedy that will help Israel’s image.”
Mossad is indeed funny, especially if you like slapstick. David Zucker, the director well-known for Airplane and Naked Gun, contributed to the film. Tsahi Halevy plays the hapless Mossad agent Guy Moran. When a beautiful woman asks for his card, Halevy hands her a blank card.
“But it’s blank,” she says.
“That’s because I’m a secret agent,” he replies.
There is a plot of sorts, but it’s almost beside the point. Halevy is competing with CIA operative Linda Harris, played by Efrat Dor, to get the credit for saving the world from an international terror organization. When an American millionaire is kidnapped in Jerusalem, the Mossad and the CIA compete to free him.
There is a lot of slapstick, and fight scenes reminiscent of the old Batman movies. Some of the running gags are funny; others less so. I became uncomfortable during a scene showing the Mossad agent and CIA agent on their knees, hooded, about to be executed by the terrorists. Islamic State executed prisoners this way, including journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
Lead actor Halevy, previously a musician, has only been acting for seven years. He told the audience that his father had worked for the Mossad, saying, “Shhh, let’s keep it between us,” and he himself had served in an undercover unit in the army.
He is also married to Lucy Aharish, an Arab Muslim citizen of Israel, a wedding that originally sparked controversy. Halevy is fluent in Hebrew, English and Arabic, and said that playing Moran with an Israeli accent was a challenge.
He said he does not think that poking fun at the Mossad is inappropriate in Israel.
“A society that laughs at itself shows it is confident,” he said.
Director Gur Arye said they held a special screening for employees of the Mossad, who laughed throughout the movie. So far, more than 250,000 Israelis have seen the movie, which is half in Hebrew and half in English. “Mossad” is set to open in US theaters in the next few weeks.