Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Dir. Kevin Smith The Weinstein Company http://www.tinymixtapes.com/sites/default/files/arton7424_1.jpg

[The Weinstein Company; 2008]

3 / 5 (0)


While the title of Kevin Smith’s new film might suggest a return to the raunchy ways of Clerks, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is in fact a relatively conventional romantic comedy. It initially earned an NC-17 rating, but Smith successfully appealed the decision, arguing that the objectionable scenes were fairly tame in comparison to any number of scenes in previous Hollywood films. Indeed, this film wasn't intended as an exercise in pushing boundaries or an examination of the porn industry; it's simply a genre film with a fairly unusual premise.

The story of two long-term friends, Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks), who, in the face of mounting financial difficulties, decide to make an adult film in the hopes of escaping their debt, Zack and Miri delves into the world of porn for laughs and even a few gross-out moments. But the film is perhaps most notable for being the latest example of the mainstreaming of porn that has marked our internet age. Some 10 years after Boogie Nights and Orgazmo, Smith has managed to get Hollywood big-money-backing for a story that centers around porn, which is further proof of shifting sensibilities and acceptance.

Because the quirky Elizabeth Banks and the self-deprecating Seth Rogen are the film's stars, viewers may feel like they’ve walked into the latest Judd Apatow debacle. In fact, Zack and Miri doesn't really depart from that brand. While Apatow has garnered considerable mainstream success with an incredibly raunchy and highly stylized form of slacker comedy, Smith uses a similar formula while retaining his own aesthetic, crafting something looser and less choreographed. While some people dislike Smith's informal camera style, it works well in Zach and Miri, bringing a comfortable feel to both the small-town setting and the shoe-string budget porn set.

Of course, a number of younger comedic filmmakers owe much of their success to Smith’s own pioneering efforts (Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy), so it's odd that, in Zack and Miri, he mines the territory of his own disciple. He does rough up the edges in an appealing way and generally takes himself less seriously -- Jason Mewes' classic performance as an older, less manic version of his well-loved Jay character is a good example -- but, for the most part, Smith is more interested in creating an odd date movie than shocking viewers or breaking new ground.