Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Movie Review)

Movie Review
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Dir. Kevin Smith
Starring: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks
Runtime: 1:41

This movie could have been a disaster. This isn’t a great way to start the review but if you think about it, this movie seemed doomed from two of the more interesting stories to come out of the creation of the film. The first quirky story was that the film was greenlit by The Weinstein Company solely because of the title, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, even before they saw a script or heard any real plot. The second is that director/writer Kevin Smith had to sweat a little in getting Seth Rogen to stick to the script rather than ramble on beyond the point. These could have been recipes for disaster. The movie is far from perfect but it isn’t a trainwreck.

Broke and about-to-be homeless Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are sulking after their high school reunion. Sitting in a bar to mope over their situation, they come up with the bright idea to make and star in their own porno movie. During production of the film because of a scene they plan to do together, Zack and Miri realize they have some unresolved feelings with one another which is compromising both the film and their friendship.

The plot of the film is simple enough and a good enough writer can write on top of the foundation to make for a strong film. Smith generally can do this although his schtick is starting to get a little stale. Smith is a gifted dialogue writer and can make some of the most coarse and vile conversation between actors seem intelligent and insightful. However, there’s only so much that could be done with two people talking about their sex lives and Smith seems to be running out of ideas. The film is funny and has a charming enough (although very messed up) story but it doesn’t feel as fresh as Clerks or smart as Chasing Amy. While I wouldn’t say Smith’s best work is behind him, it just seems that this film seems uninspired and that he’s only going through the paces with Zack and Miri.

One thing I was worried about was Rogen. He usually works without a lease and given many liberties on the script that he has to work with. Maybe he should refrain from his improv style because he does really well on a shorter lease. Rogen can act which may surprise some whose pedigree includes Knocked Up and Superbad. In fact, the actors do a real good job in this film. Banks proves that she is not just a pretty face and Jason Mewes, Smith’s sidekick buddy, has been making great strides. Mewes is far from being a lead actor a film can be based around but does a really good job in a supporting role.

Despite their best efforts for Smith and Co., Zack and Miri is a letdown. A Kevin Smith movie is always something to look forward to because he covers personal (and sexual) issues better and more frankly than any other mainstream filmmaker in Hollywood. But he seems to be spinning his wheels lately. Maybe the Weinstein Company would have been better served to have seen what was on the drawing board other than just the title.

☆☆

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