Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Long, Brandon Routh, Craig Robinson,
Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson, Traci Lords and Katie Morgan

Rated: R strong crude sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity and pervasive language
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: October 31, 2008 Released by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.

Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express) and Elizabeth Banks (Definitely, Maybe) are just right in this gleefully rude comedy by Kevin Smith, maybe his best film in a long time. It turns out to be a spry, vulgar variation on When Harry Met Sally. His underlying heart of gold turns out for a better payoff than in something like Jersey Girl.

The director knew the title, Zack and Miri Make a Porno itself could stir up enough controversy, as his raucous, crude film had to be cleaned up (a little) to reach a wider audience. The result is something enlivened by a strong stream of naughtiness, especially when it comes to talk about sex. A very wintry Pittsburgh helps to ease the viewer into the conflict that to envelop life-long friends into putting their relationship into a precarious position.

In its conception (and casting) it seems that Smith has learned from Judd Apatow, as the lead characters eventually get down and dirty for the necessity of being able to make ends meet in a somewhat unflattering residence.

A high school reunion (the night before Thanksgiving) has coffee-shop worker Zack bumping into an old married classmate and talking with a gay porn star (Justin Long in a deep tenor voice). He happens to be with the hunk Bobby Long (Brandon Routh) who is come on to by a naive Miri.

In short time the platonic couple are more of an item when propitiously captured on a videophone, and their rapidly declining financial condition draws them into a "sci-fi" project called "Star Whores" put together by Zack.

As part of Zack's crew, Craig Robinson (also in Pineapple Express) bangs out a deadpan sensitivity to his blackness as the "producer" in a scene-stealing role, while Ricky Mabe, Jason Mewes (a Smith regular), Jeff Anderson (Clerks 2) as the lenser, Traci Lords as the bodacious Bubbles, and "Porn 101" star Katie Morgan provide their own brand of colorful specialties.

Even if the plump Zack and pretty Miri don't seem right for this premise, Smith lets it all unfold in a chirpy, uncouth way as a strange group of working-stiffs are willing to let it all hang out. The teddybear-ish Rogen has the crass insouciance down that ignites with the appealing, brusque Banks, in a nice contrast to her 40-Year-Old Virgin character.

Smith doesn't look to expand his fanbase, even with curiosity more piqued for Make a Porno, yet he reins it all with an inner romantic resignation in his flesh for fantasy. It's a familiar, explicit representation that many who'll identify with Zack will dig and will be present at the closing credit crawl for a marketing video.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Zack and Miri Make a Porno  C-      B         C         C 

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