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Zack and Miri Make a Porno Review

By Lexi Feinberg

Great Sexpectations

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, called the '90s, Kevin Smith churned out memorable, uproarious films such as "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy." Then for a long stretch, he lost his way, getting plowed by the sentimentality train ("Jersey Girl") and forgetting that louder doesn't necessarily mean funnier ("Clerks 2"). Devout fans have been waiting, patiently, for the writer/director to return to form, and their wish has finally been granted with "Zack and Miri Make a Porno."

The provocative title, which has caused some oversensitive media outlets to ban ads for the film, suggests a much crasser story than what is presented. Sure, the majority centers on the production of a sex tape, but "Zack and Miri" is truly a budding love story between two friends who desire each other yet are too clueless to know it. Don’t worry, though--there's plenty of silliness and politically incorrect events to keep the chuckles coming.

Lifelong "platonic pals" Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) live together in Pittsburgh, where they work dead-end jobs and scramble to pay the bills. Mission not accomplished, as their electricity, heat and hot water get shut off in the middle of winter. After a viral video of the two--featuring Miri wearing granny panties and Zack flashing his backside--becomes a hit on the Internet, they decide to seek other sources of income. When the idea of making a porno gets tossed around, Miri hesitates, saying it's not what others resort to. "Other people have options. And dignity," Zack points out.

So it goes: By banding together some friends (Ricky Mabe, Craig Robinson), familiar faces (Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes) and porn stars (Traci Lords, Katie Morgan), the sex-shooting games begin. Originally they plan to do a perverse spin on "Star Wars," with characters such as Hung Solo and Princess Lay-Her, but instead they wind up in Zack's place of employment: a coffee shop. When it comes time for Zack and Miri to get down and dirty--an act they insist "won't change the friendship"; didn't they ever watch "When Harry Met Sally"?-- they find themselves gazing into each other's eyes and making sweet love. Not exactly the stuff of exciting pornography.

What makes "Zack and Miri" work is the chemistry between Rogen and Banks, which is a perfect mix of snarky and adorable. They have a playground-teasing way of associating--he freaks when he walks in and sees her on the toilet, she chastises him for wasting money on an overpriced sex gadget--but at the core, they are like a married couple who, after 20 years of hanging out, still find the other endearing.

Mushiness aside, there's quite a bit of outrageous sex in the film, mostly between Mewes and Morgan, who seem more comfortable naked than many people seem in clothes. There's also a hilarious 10-year highschool reunion bit that shows Miri throwing herself at an old crush (Brandon Routh) before realizing that, whoops, he's gay and there with his boyfriend (Justin Long).

Watching people humiliate themselves is half the enjoyment of "Zack and Miri," as they exchange the foul-mouthed, firecracker dialogue that made Smith wealthy. This movie isn't quite as funny as "Clerks" or as touching as "Chasing Amy," but it fits neatly into the Apatow era of "Knocked Up" and "Superbad." Sex sells, indeed.

What did you think?

Movie title Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Release year 2008
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary After an exhausting dry spell, Kevin Smith finally scores with "Zack and Miri."
View all articles by Lexi Feinberg
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