Film Reviews

ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO

By • Oct 27th, 2008 •

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Kevin Smith finally has a hit with Rogen and porn stars. Smith got the Ben Affleck curse lifted.

Have you seen Seth Rogen on late night TV talk shows? He’s getting the Hollywood re-do for THE GREEN HORNET. Will the re-mastering of Rogen as a sex symbol work? It hasn’t worked for Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler, but there is always Christopher Mintz-Plasse, ‘SUPERBAD McLovin’ to take Rogen’s place as the guy you actively avoided in high school.

Kevin Smith needs a hit, so he’s orchestrated one with a formula that can’t lose. Seth Rogen and porn stars! Throw in Smith fan favorite Jason Mewes as a sex maniac (full frontal on display) and lots of dirty language about anal sex, a title that explains the movie, and you’ve got a hit.

Then ruin it by making it a standard, Hollywood redemption sweet romance.

Everyone with a cell phone camera is taking nude photos of friends and making home porn movies. With trailblazer and talent-free Paris Hilton creating her mega-celebrity status with a sex tape, and sex tape runner-up Kim Kardashian’s spot on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and a reality TV show (her mother is her manager!), it’s the gold standard for launching a career.

There are two things I learned about Kevin Smith: He’s either unhappily married (I know, his wife Jennifer Schwalback Smith is in the movie!) or he thinks everyone else is, and men and women cannot be life-long friends without having sex.

Seth Rogen is incredibly likeable with an original movie persona. He’s got a wounded frustration that is clearly present in his voice. This will certainly be lost as he sheds the weight, glasses, and his hair is straightened and tamed. But in ZACK AND MIRI he is at his hopeless loser best.

You know the story from the title. Childhood friends and school outcasts, Zack (Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) live in a rundown apartment in freezing cold, snowy Pittsburgh. With no goals and each affirming that the other’s life is miserable and they are comrades in Gulag poverty, they have knowingly ignored being responsible adults. They are dead broke, even though they both have entry-level, minimum wage jobs at the local mall.

When the electricity and water are turned off, Zack suggests they make a sex tape and sell it to the 800 people who they went to high school with. Miri finally agrees even though it’s weird. They put out a casting call and that’s when real life porn star Katie Morgan, playing a stripper, and retired porn alumni Traci Lords, playing a porn star, turn up and embrace the project. With funding from Delaney (Craig Robinson) an unhappily-married employee at Zack’s coffee shop, they begin pre-production.

That’s when the sex hilarity begins and so does the jealousy. You know the ending.

Elizabeth Banks is terrific, showing why she’s a real, versatile actress in one key scene and telegraphing why Paris and Kim will not have a long shelf life in movies or TV. They do have a future as judges on reality show competitions.

I’ve seen Katie Morgan’s HBO series. I tried and failed to find out how Katie became a breakout porn star cross-over. I don’t watch porn, so education on this matter will be appreciated. Could it be she’s not perfect, has huge fake breasts, and has the ability to be totally un-self-conscious being naked while behaving as if she is being interviewed by Barbara Walters on ‘The View’? Appearing flaky and non-threatening must be another plus.

Traci Lords, on the other hand, has never been able to drop the anger and fury written all over her face. She reeks of a negative Slut-Goddess attitude, as if she thinks you are looking at her, knowing she’s a whore. In ZACK AND MIRI she’s the stern mother in the background holding the boom mike. If she can’t forget her past, how can we?

Smith (who thankfully stayed out of ZACK AND MIRI) gives Brandon Routh and Justin Long hilarious cameos. Routh will recover from SUPERMAN RETURNS). And let’s not deny we all love foul-mouthed, angry old East Indian guys. These caricatures are so popular, why doesn’t someone make a movie about them?

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