Thursday, January 8, 2009

Zack & Miri Make a Porno



Kevin Smith's Zack & Miri Make a Porno is a mildly enjoyable filthy comedy, not up to the standards of his past classics like Clerks and Chasing Amy or the best of the recent glut of R-rated comedies, but worth a dozen or so hearty laughs. It exists firmly in the "romantic comedy for men" genre Knocked Up recently made hot, making the presence of star Seth Rogen entirely appropriate.

Comedically, Smith takes the approach of flinging as much filthiness as he possibly can at the wall and hoping it all sticks - and I'd say at least half does. For a movie that attempts a dirty joke every few seconds for more or less much the entire runtime, that's not bad. Fucking, dicks, boners, anal sex, blowjobs, shit, piss, cum, vaginas, and of course the titular pornography, over and over, at a constant fever pitch and as graphically as Smith can make it in the dialogue, through the entire movie. Juvenile beyond a shadow of a doubt but somewhat funny if you're so inclined.

The romantic portion of the film, as Zack and Miri realize their feelings for each other amid shooting their dirty movie, drops the ball a bit. It's just barely excusable, but more on the strength of Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as actors than on the screenplay, which is a little weak and generic. The problem is that Kevin Smith still isn't great at writing women and Miri comes across as having very nearly exactly the same personality and voice as Zack, just marginally feminized. It's a little weird to watch the same person fall in love with each other.

But as I said, Rogen and Banks are talented actors, and they both handle both the comedy and drama well. I've been a big fan of Rogen even before Knocked Up and continue to be. But it's Craig Robinson of The Office and the doorman in Knocked Up fame ("Can't have a bunch of old, pregnant bitches runnin' around") who steals the movie. He's impossibly dry and pulls off comedic self-loathing as hysterically as any movie character from 2008.

The strangest editorial choice in the movie, and in fact probably in any movie I saw in 2008, is Kevin Smith's decision to tag the real ending to the movie after some three or four minutes of credits. The film's love story is resolved before we go to credits, several minutes roll, and then we come back for the real conclusion that details what happened to the characters' financial woes and pornographic endeavors - not a cute little tag, but a full, multiple-scene, five minute sequence that resolves nearly all of the film's plot.

The tragic irony is that 90% of film audiences get up and bolt for the exit when the credits roll like the theater is on fire, so nearly everyone who saw Zack & Miri will never see or know the film's ending. I'm not sure what Smith was thinking, but it was a bad decision.

However, credits weirdness and romantic flatness aside, it's still a funny comedy. No all-time classic, but fans of Seth Rogen or ninety minutes of sustained dirty sex humor will probably enjoy it for its quick duration. I wasn't exactly impressed, but I had some laughs.


2 Stars out of 5

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