Theatrical Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

It’s Pittsburgh and the dead of winter and platonic roommates Zack Brown and Miri Linky are struggling to make ends meet. We find that Zack works in a Starbucks-like coffee house, but strangely, we never quite see what Miri does… but I digress. Times are tough for the two and then they have their 10th anniversary class reunion that they’re going to and while there, they pretty much discover that they’re not doing anything for anyone to give a damn about them at all… and as they make their way back to their apartment, then everything is cut off- no power, no water, they’ve truly hit their rock-bottom. Now at their class reunion, they’ve discovered that one of their former classmates now makes gay porn, and so that inspires Zack to suggest to Miri, that they should make a porno film and with a ready made list of 800 names from their class reunion, they’ve got the perfect base to sell their film to, make money and live the good life…

And then of course, hi-jinks ensue…

This is the premise of the latest movie from writer/director Kevin Smith, Zack and Miri Make a Porno and unfortunately, while it’s a pleasant enough piece in it’s own way, it’s also Smith’s weakest movie yet…

Here’s the deal, I don’t necessarily mind raunch in my films, and further I expect it from Kevin Smith movies, but there’s something about it in his other movies where it feels right and further where it’s delivered in such a way that it’s wildly amusing. But here, it feels like Smith is doing it just to be doing and saying “yeah, here’s what I can do” and it just feels forced amongst his cast…

… and his cast is just plain wrong for the film. Seth Rogen plays Zack, Elizabeth Banks plays Miri, and they’re backed up by Craig Robinson, Traci Lords, Justin Long, Brandon Routh and perennial Smith regulars, Jeff Anderson and Jason Mewes. Now I’m on the record of just not being a Seth Rogen fan, so I certainly admit that bias, and had this not been a Kevin Smith movie, I doubt I would’ve seen it in the first place, but I don’t buy a bit of Rogen in the film for the most part (though he does have his moments), but he’s just not at all sincere to me with his performance. And I think Elizabeth Banks tries to be too sincere here, and as such, it just never gels between the two. Now you can certainly chalk this up to poor writing as well, as we’re never really told how they end up in their situation in the first place, we’re just shown a scene where their unpaid bills are overflowing, but nothing that really tells us why these too “losers” (and I use that term real loosely in Banks’ case) are the way they are- they both have jobs (though as I said above, we really don’t know what Miri does) and absolutely nothing gets paid, I guess it’s because they really don’t discover anything about personal responsibility until they decide to make a porno film, but that’s really thin, especially in comparison to what Smith has done with his characters in other movies.

Now the rest of the cast is fine, with the exception of Craig Robinson, who doesn’t really do anything to differently from what he does in The Office. In fact, I think Justin Long, Jeff Anderson, and Jason Mewes have the best moments in the film- there probably should’ve been more with these folks than there was with Zack and Miri.

This misses the mark in it’s perception of the porn business as well, but that doesn’t really bother me as much and I think that would’ve gone over better had this had wither two different and more complimentary leads or else either Rogen or either Banks and someone else to compliment them better. It’s not the worst movie that I’ve seen for the year by any means (it’s a comedy and I did laugh a few times in the film- not like Get Smart where I didn’t laugh at all), but compared to what Kevin Smith has delivered before, Zack and Miri Make a Porno falls way short…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

09. November 2008 by Darren Goodhart
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