Zack and Miri Make a Porno
dir-scr Kevin Smith
with Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson, Traci Lords, Katie Morgan, Ricky Mabe, Brandon Routh, Justin Long, Tom Savini, Jennifer Schwalbach
release US 31.Oct.08, UK 14.Nov.08
08/US Weinstein 1h42
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Special delivery: Banks and Rogen

mewes routh long
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Zack and Miri Make a Porno Kevin Smith brings his say-anything humour to this comedy then holds back on the storytelling. The premise sets us up for something truly raucous, but it ends up being yet another prudish, mushy rom-com.

Zack (Rogen) shares a flat with his childhood friend Miri (Banks): two slackers with low-paying jobs that don't quite make ends meet. When their power and water are cut off, they get desperate and decide that maybe making a porn movie will help them pay their bills. So with Zack's coworker Delaney (Robinson), they gather some costars (Mewes, Lords, Morgan and Mabe) and a cameraman (Anderson) and promise that sex won't change their 20-year friendship. After a few setbacks, the camera starts rolling and, sure enough, things get messy.

Strangely, Smith's gross-out dialog feels like desperately strained. There are huge laughs along the way, but nowhere near the consistent patter of the Clerks movies. Even so, the cast give it everything they've got, creating charming characters who are genuinely funny as they interact with their growing band of wannabe pornographers. By the time they're ready with the sets and costumes for their porno Star Wars (Star Whores, of course), we're ready for the film to really cut loose.

And yet this is where Smith starts indulging in squeamish moralising and corny romantic sludge. We'd seen this plot turn coming from the beginning, but were hoping Smith would at least approach it with some snappy wit, rather than fall back on the standard romantic-comedy formula. And as the film gets increasingly serious and sweet, the belly laughs are even less frequent. There are some nicely written and played scenes along the way, but for a rude sex comedy this is oddly traditional and sentimental.

Rogen and Banks are engaging actors playing scruffy, likeable characters. Although as love and jealousy emerge, they actually get more superficial. And there's also that gnawing realisation that this is yet another movie in which pudgy-pasty loser Rogen has an improbably gorgeous blonde after him (see Katherine Heigl in Knocked-Up and Amber Heard in Pineapple Express). Much more interesting is the dynamic between the porn-movie cast and crew, a wacky combination of characters that's never really mined for laughs because the film abandons them for the sappy love story.

cert 18 themes, very strong language, sexuality, vulgarity 28.Oct.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall