Saturday, May 23, 2009

Movie Log: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Every so often -- maybe once a decade or so -- Kevin Smith makes a movie that I think I can watch with my wife. Chasing Amy was the last one, but I thought I had a good chance with Zack and Miri Make a Porno. (It's not all of the Kevin Smithian sex I think she'd object to; it's the endless, pointless conversations among emotionally stunted man-boys who swear every other word that would drive her to throw heavy objects at my head. Well, that and the obligatory smirking juvenile grossouts like the donkey show in Clerks II.)

The title explains it all here: Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are ten years out of high school, stuck in dead-end jobs, living platonically with each other, and chronically out of money. When all of their utilities are cancelled over Thanksgiving, they decide to break out their last-ditch money-making scheme: to have sex with each other and film it as a porn movie. (They're also somewhat inspired by meeting the gay-porn-star boyfriend of an old high school friend, played way against type by Justin "I'm a Mac" Long.)

So they assemble their cast, including such nudges to the viewer as ex-porn star Tracy Lords and current porn star Katie Morgan. And then most of the movie is a "hey, let's put on a show!" plot, renowned on stage and screen for at least the past eight decades. It's a Kevin Smith movie, so there's plenty of cursing and a few disgusting supposed-to-be-funny moments, but the actual funny luckily outweighs the supposed-to-be-funny this time. But he's still not a master of pacing, so Zack and Miri lurches from scene to scene arbitrarily, and wanders away from itself several times.

It's a big shaggy lunkhead of a movie, as Smith's better films are, and it's got a fair bit of heart, for which Smith never gets enough credit. But there's still something essentially juvenile about Zack and Miri; it's the joke told by that AV Club geek behind his hand in the lunchroom. If you can be satisfied with that, Zack and Miri is cute and even approaches honest emotion at times.

1 comment:

RobB said...

I'm a big fan of Kevin Smith, but this was the most difficult thing of his that I watched. Granted, I didn't see the much maligned JERSEY GIRL, but Zack and Mire felt so entirely forced. Then again, I think I'm coming to realize I just don't get what is so funny and appealing about Seth Rogen.

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