Review: ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have a problem.

Platonic best friends since elementary school, the two find themselves in their mid-20s sharing an apartment and going nowhere fast. Their dead end jobs are not enough to pay their bills and as their utilities are slowly being turned off, they are in danger of being evicted from their shared apartment. But after the one-two punch of a high school class reunion and becoming the unwitting subjects of a popular embarrassing internet viral video, they realize that the only way to earn some money in this downturned economy is to go into the only recession-proof business- internet pornography.

With a group of friends to serve as crew and additional cast, the pair use the coffee shop where Zack is employed as an after-hours filming location. But as it draws closer to the time for Zack and Miri to shoot their climactic scene, they find themselves suddenly beset with feelings for each other that they never knew they had. It is a situation that leads to a dénouement that once again betrays Smith’s oft-professed love of mid-1980s John Hughes films.

Zack And Miri Make A Porno is more than a funny movie about dirty movies. Despite the title, the occasional of nudity and the course language, it is not so much a raunchy sex comedy as it is a story about the pitfalls of friends who find themselves falling in love. The potentially dangerous mixture of friendship, sex and love is one that Smith has explored before, most notably in Chasing Amy. While the relationships here are simpler than in that film, Rogen and Banks’ chemistry buttress any weak points the script may have between the two of them.

Almost in spite of the title, this is Smith’s most mature work as a filmmaker. He handles the film’s shifting tones from comedy to the more serious relationship moments and back with ease. Usually self-deprecating about his skills as a director, Smith has delivered his best looking film to date. When you realize that he does this with the same cinematographer who shot his debut film, the black and white and very low-tech Clerks, one gets a real sense of how far Smith’s technical skills have come.

As with most of Smith’s films, there is an element of autobiography here. Clerks draws from his experience as counter jockey at a convenience store, Dogma takes inspiration from his own questions about his Catholic faith and some elements of Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back are probably inspired by his own online interaction with fans and detractors. Smith shot his first film at his boring day job’s workplace after closing hours, so when Zack, Miri and crew descend on the coffee shop were Zack works to shoot their film it is hard not to see Smith coming full circle. Anyone who has worked on a low to no budget independent film will certainly smile in recognition of improvised microphone booms and lighting rigs.

This film also marks just the second time that Smith has stepped out of the self-contained universe a majority of his films exist in, where characters from one film can appear in another without things being direct sequels to each other. These often raunchy comedies helped to pave the way for the films of writer/director/producer Judd Apatow, many of which feature Rogen. It seems only right that the two collaborate here. Rogen delivers another variation of his loveable but goofy schlub character. Banks manages to hold her own against the comic actor, never getting upstaged by Rogen’s character.

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About Rich Drees 6258 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture.

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