Movie Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
Last night I had the pleasure of seeing an advance screening of Kevin Smith’s latest film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The film, due out for theatrical release on Halloween, stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks in the title roles. They’re lifelong friends and current roommates who are flat broke and do what any sane people would do when faced with no other options: Make an adult film. Seems simple enough, right? Throughout the film, we’re shown how Zack and Miri, who have been friends since the 1st grade just belong together. It’s this little bit of romance that gives the film so much heart which somehow shines through all of the dick jokes.
Oh yeah. There are dick jokes. And quite a lot of them actually. I mean, the title of the film has the word “Porno” in it. What were you expecting? There’s a ton of raunchy humor in this movie, but it’s not done in a tasteless or unfunny manner that you’d expect from some of the current low-brow films that are out there (*cough*Epic Movie*cough*). I’d put this on about the same level as Knocked Up or Superbad on the language front.
Smith rounds out the cast with Zack’s friend and co-worker Delaney (Craig Robinson), camera man Deacon (Jeff Anderson) as well as longtime View Askewbian Jason Mewes as Lester. In addition to these faces, there are a handful of professional adult film stars such as Katie Morgan and Traci Lords. Surprisingly, they all give fantastic performances. While I think that Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks owned this movie, Craig Robinson came damn close to stealing it right out from under them. That man really needs to be in more things because he’s friggin’ hilarious.
Speaking of being hilarious, this film delivers the laughs. I can’t remember one joke that fell flat throughout the entire picture. It was consistently funny the entire time. The dramatic or emotional moments were balanced out by the sheer hilarity of the rest of the movie. Again, I turn to Knocked Up for a comparison because on the one hand you’ve got this incredibly vulgar language, but on the other you’ve got this sweet love story. Zack and Miri has a similar formula. Here is this rather touching romantic story between the two main characters and it’s surrounded by one of the most un-romantic things you can think of: Porno. To me, that’s akin to the romantic comedy seen in Shaun of the Dead except we’re replacing brain-eating zombies with dirty pictures.
This delicate balance really shows how Kevin Smith has grown as a filmmaker. He doesn’t have to rely solely on the crude humor to get people to enjoy this film. There’s a truly great and well-crafted story here. Even though there were a few moments where I felt that things were being spread on a bit thick (ie: Delaney’s motivational speech to Zack towards the end of the film), Smith can get away with things like that because of how he put the rest of the film together. It’s like he built up the funny street cred and he’s able to cash in for at least one “aww” scene by the end of the film.
Don’t let that fool you though. This film is definitely an R-rated picture. After Smith and producer Scott Mosier appealed the MPAA’s decision to rate it at an NC-17, it’s still got a ton of pretty crude moments including full frontal male (I’ll never look at a refrigerator the same way again) and female nudity. Bottom line though, I think this has become my favorite Kevin Smith film. Granted, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the others, but this one just stuck out from the rest. That’s not saying that his previous films weren’t any good, because I love them all. Don’t get me wrong.
I plan on seeing this again when it hits theaters at the end of the month. Even though I just saw it, I missed a few lines because of the incredibly loud laughter of the audience in the packed theater. I’m looking forward to it.
PS: The film gets bonus points for including “Fett’s Vette” by MC Chris on the soundtrack!