Zack and Miri Make a Po r n o
Release Date: October 31, 2008
Cast: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Brandon Routh, Justin Long, Craig Robinson
(out of 4)
By Sean Chavel
About the only person that could take a lewd concept such as "Zack and Miri Make a Po r n o" and make it into something funny is Kevin Smith. And whaddya know? Kevin Smith did make this movie! And he got Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks to star! How inspired!
You know the thing about it is that it is lewd. But a filmmaker like Kevin Smith doesn’t shy away from it. The last thing I’d want is a comedy about p o r n o-making that is coy and cutesy (For the few people that saw last year’s awful “The Amateurs” with Jeff Bridges, you know what I mean). So Zack and Miri are lewd and proud of it. They’re working class people with no funds to pay the gas and electric bills. Po r n o s are easier than ever to distribute, so why not get into making one?
Now there are people that will attend this movie and find it lewd and that hate Kevin Smith’s writing. You know Kevin Smith: He’s the guy that brought you “Clerks,” “Chasing Amy,” “Dogma,” and, uh, “Clerks II” (that’s one I’d like to forget). And the foul-mouthed rascal in Smith hasn’t changed. There’s a stream of anal penetration jokes and displays of bi-sexual high jinks and references to money shots. His comedic aim goes for the, uh, the jugular.
If you aren’t a prude, you’re going to laugh hard during “Zack and Miri.” There’s an especially riotously funny sequence early on when Zack and Miri attend their 10-year high school reunion (in anticipation to laugh down at others) – Miri gets drunk and attempts to pick up her former crush Bobby Long (Brandon Routh) for a night of drunken casual sex. Unbeknownst to her, Bobby Long is gay and former classmate Brandon (Justin Long) is the boyfriend and a gay porn star in Hollywood.
Of course in a drunken stupor and succumbed to desperation, it dawns on Zack and Miri – two longtime buddies/pals that they could both get out of debt by making a po rn o. The big idea they get is to make “Star Whores” based and inspired by, yes, George Lucas’ popular “Star Wars.” Zack and Miri’s rented warehouse and intergalactic costumes get destroyed by a wrecking ball so that idea has to be scrapped. Ultimately, it leads to a rollicking camera shoot at the coffee shop they work at, pulling the blinds at night and shooting with other amateur porn stars played by Katie Morgan, Jason Mewes and Traci Lords (not playing herself).
The movie delivers with titillating and raunchy humor and occasional nudity. If you are going to make a movie like this, you might as well go all out. As I implied before, the last thing I’d want is a coy and cutesy movie – a p orn o comedy packaged to the general audience. And what I mean by that is the family audience. If there’s one thing that bothered me about “Little Miss Sunshine” (although I did like it as an adult comedy) it’s that we’ve come to an era when a movie featuring po rno magazine jokes is marketed to the entire family when it’s clearly adult material. “Zack and Miri” knows that it’s lewd and decides to deliver its smart yuks to an older audience with raunchy sensibilities.
The last third of the movie teeters on precious, just a bit, as Zack and Miri learn that after all those year’s of friendship they might actually have feelings for each other. They put heart into their on-camera sex, and now they are confused about how they feel about each other. I could have done less with that dilemma but Kevin Smith doesn’t pile it on too heavy. Uh, maybe he does now that I think harder in retrospect. Of course, none of this approaches the art of “Boogie Nights,” the real true por no-making movie epic. But you probably already knew that.