In Tehran, a man named Jamshid Fakhreinpour opens up his mail to discover he’s won the green card lottery. He excitedly begins to wave an American flag in the town square, but it dips onto the ground and becomes covered in gasoline. A cigarette flicked into the air lights his flag on fire and suddenly a hundred cell phones are capturing him manically waving it around in the air. This footage ends up on the Internet and airs in the U.S. on the “Kox News Channel” with a Sean Hannity-esque commentator who mistakes Jashmid for a terrorist.
Stand-up comic Maz Jobrani (“Better Off Ted”) teams up with Jonathan Kesselman (“The Hebrew Hammer”) to star as the film’s title character, an Iranian immigrant who moves to Los Angeles with his mother with dreams of becoming a cop, but ends up working security in a Persian grocery store. Sheila Vand (“Argo”) also gives a hysterical performance as Jimmy’s seventh cousin, Lelia, who may love him just a little bit too much and always manages to save him from trouble.
To assimilate in America, he changes his name to Jimmy Vestvood and starts working on the side as a private investigator. A conservative businessman named JP Monroe (John Heard) hires Jimmy to spy on his wife by telling him that he needs proof that she’s having an affair. What Jimmy doesn’t know is that JP is an arms dealer whose real goal is to start World War III.
Fans of the Zucker Brothers will find a lot to enjoy here as it recalls the humor of “The Naked Gun” films combined with a touch of “Borat.” We get a lovingly inept hero and a bunch of fast and furious gags that are often gleefully offensive. Jobrani is legitimately funny here, specializing in outrageous slapstick. The satire is well-balanced and, more often than not, the jokes go over like gangbusters. With its humorous cultural lens, this movie should be a career-changing moment for Jobrani.
“Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero” screens again at 7 p.m. Monday at the Alamo Village.