Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.

Release Date: October 31st, 2008 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Kevin Smith Actors: Elizabeth Banks, Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Brandon Routh, Justin Long, Tom Savini, Katie Morgan, Jason Mewes, Traci Lords

 


 

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evin Smith’s name has become almost irreversibly linked with hilariously vulgar dialogue and the notion of pushing the boundaries of good taste in comedy. And while “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” definitely contains a few scenes of Smith’s trademark atrocities, it never really hurdles over that line of decency (which is practically expected), nor does it relish in the typically volatile speeches notorious in his previous work. For better or for worse (or whether or not genuine romantic drama was intended), the end result just isn’t that funny. And since it’s coming from Kevin Smith, the latter is more likely.

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have been platonic friends for as long as they can remember. After heavy misuse of funds and a degrading revelation at their high school reunion, the duo realizes they are in desperate need of money. In a mad scheme to alleviate the burden of their financial blunders, they concoct a plan to make an adult movie. Recruiting a coworker (Craig Robinson) to produce, an unscrupulous cameraman (Jeff Anderson) to film, and a few uninhibited actors and actresses to perform (Jason Mewes, Traci Lords, Katie Morgan, Ricky Mabe), everything seems to be going according to plan – until Miri finds herself falling for her costar.

Proven by – and ever since – “Clerks,” writer/director Smith has reveled in the art of crafting creatively crude conversations mixed with a touch of humanity, a helping of sincerity, and almost no propriety. With “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” the back-and-forth banter feels a little too forced, as if Smith’s characters curse just to add a little pronunciation to key words in the topics they discuss, rather than allowing the subject matter to create the laughs for itself. Many of Zack’s retorts to Miri feel overworked and never fully exploited for their full comedic potential. The numerous gay jokes stale quickly, the porn parodies are recycled, and arguments with the temperamental coffee shop boss feel borrowed from early Judd Apatow films. Smith’s clever way with words does seep into a few exchanges, but not nearly enough to be consistent.

Plus, many of the confabulations sound like Seth Rogen wrote his own lines specifically for himself, spitting out the verbiage audiences are familiar with from “Knocked Up” and “Superbad.” And Elizabeth Banks refrains from overly offbeat sexual conversations altogether, as if she’s in an edited, cleaner version of the film. By the time things wrap up with the incredibly commonplace boy-loses-girl plot, there are few genuine laughs to be found. In fact, once the love story takes over around the midway point, barely any humor finds its way into the scenes at all. It’s as if Smith forgot what makes his own films so popular.

Ultimately, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” provides a more tantalizing mental image than it visually paints onscreen (as additionally evidenced by controversial, prematurely pulled advertisements). The idea is stimulating, but the execution is tepid. Surrounding a musty affair with the principally clumsy (and only occasionally sexy) conception of pornography may sound interesting in theory – but only until that bland, true-love bit awkwardly surfaces. It’s actually the romance buried amidst the random vulgarities that the movie really wants to single out; unfortunately, that’s not the amusing part of Kevin Smith’s filmmaking.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10