Friday, October 31, 2008

ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO - The Film Babble Blog Review

ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO (Dir. Kevin Smith, 2008)



Seems like the world of movie comedy has passed Kevin Smith by these days.

From the many Judd Apatow approved projects to the likes of Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, and Adam Sandler dominating the raunchy guy genre is there really any place or need any more for Jay and Silent Bob? 



Well, thankfully they’ve been left behind (though Jason Mewes does show up) for Smith’s new chance to play catch-up and show he can still make with the crude and rude gross-out gags. 


Highjacking major Apatow-player Seth Rogen and basking in the low budget roughness in which he created his best work, Smith gives us Rogen and Elizabeth Banks (also a Apatow veteran) as broke best friend room mates who...oh, you know the title.


The use of the word “porno” has caused mild controversy with some markets refusing its title and original promotional images were changed to feature stick figures to both appease the MPAA and make cheap fun of it.


The film was heavily edited to avoid a NC-17 but I doubt any of that material was any dicier or outrageous as the film wants itself to be.


The lowdown is that it’s filled with scads of scatological humor, which is mostly tossed of in casual banter, and a lot of nudity (filmed in probably the most unsexy way I’ve ever seen) but nothing that would shock anybody who hasn’t seen the trailer and got already the gist.


That’s not to say it isn’t fairly funny and very watchable - Rogen and Banks are good together with amusing turns from the obligatory real porn star cameo by Traci Lords, Smith stock company member Jeff Anderson (Randal from CLERKS), and the bemused Craig Robinson (The Office, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS).


It appears from the duo’s ideas for a adult movie effort to help pay their bills that Smith’s pop culture reference lingo has really dated - enough with the STAR WARS whatnot! “Star Whores”? Really witty, Kevin. The Star Bucks stand-in “Bean ‘N Gone” that Rogen and Banks work and are forced to film their porno project at (further echoes of CLERKS) reeks of left-over retail complaints you’d think that Smith would be over at this point.


Smith delights in characters and premises that refuse to mature and that's fine, I just wish his film-making would grow up. Crude, badly cut, and just barely holding the narrative together, this movie is not the work of a polished confident director, but I bet he would take that as a compliment.


Rogen carries a lot of the film on his affable back, rolling with a laid back nature while Banks’ spirit and go-with-it timing are a welcome contrast to her current portrayal of Laura Bush in W. They're both big reasons to see this movie whatever your views on the View Askewniverse. ZACK AND MIRI... has the soul of an 80’s teen movie, most definitively the oeuvre of John Hughes.


Its heart and motives are a pastiche of well worn tried and true predictability - the funny audition sequence, the on-the-fly dance number, the aim to make a distinction between sex and “making love”. The fact that it has a heart probably won’t concern those who want old school Kevin Smith shenanigans so the best I can say there is that this is much better than CLERKS II

ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO has too much worthy competition (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, TROPIC THUNDER, FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL) to be considered one of the best comedies of the year yet it is still likable enough even though it’s not as laughable as I would’ve liked.

More later...

13 comments:

Fletch said...

Though it sounds like you enjoyed it overall, I disagree with your criticisms of Smith. I think that had Anderson and Mewes not been involved (and with New Jersey already out of the picture), you might not have known that this was a Smith vehicle. Outside of perhaps Dogma, this was the most complete "film" he's made. Compared to the likes of all else in his canon (I've not seen Jersey Girl), the acting was better, the direction was stronger, the editing - I thought the Zack/Miri scene and the scene set to the Pixies were well done.

But who knows - I wasn't expecting the worst, but my expectations were tempered for sure; I haven't liked any of Smith's work since Dogma, so I came out pretty pleased.

Dean Treadway said...

I don't think there's a filmmaker that's working today, besides Michael Bay and Brett Ratner, that I despise more than Kevin Smith. Other than the first half of CLERKS, the guy has never made a movie that I thought was clever or accomplished. That he is revered by a whole generation of small-minded syncophants is further isult to injury. His sole claim to fame is that he's dared to have filmed twenty minute dialogues about blow-jobs. I don't have anything against fellatio, God knows, but could the guy come up with something that matters? When he tries, with some drek like DOGMA, it's an incomprehensible diatribe against a religion Smith himself still ascribes to. Even after a decade, the guy still can't make a movie that looks any better than a glass full of mud. He doesn't know where to put the camera, doesn't know how to move it, doesn't know when to cut, and doesn't know what to cut out. I surprises me not one little bit that ZACK AND MIRI is just one more attempt to revive a sagging career once proped up by people who now at least are close to being on to his sorry game. I think now the guy is more interested in beng kiss-assed by comic-con nerds than he is in making movies. Why else would it have taken him two years to come up with something as obvious as a spoof on porno movie-making. What, is he still fifteen or what? The guy is married and with kids...he's still thinking about porno??? It's an pandering attempt at riling the basest aspects of our moviegoing or mastabatory natures, ans it's as tranparent as onion skin paper. I like that you obviously recognize it as such, but I question whether you were too kind to the movie, even though I'm sure Rogen and Banks are appealing as its leads.

Fletch said...

I have two guesses for you, Dean; tell me if I'm wrong on either: 1. You haven't seen Zack and Miri, thus making your arguments against it pretty weak. 2. Smith snubbed you once upon a time, and you've never been able to forgive him.

Dean Treadway said...

Sigh. Well, I'll take the second option first. No, I've never met Kevin Smith. He has, however, snubbed me every instance I've taken valuable time out to catch one of his movies. JAY AND SILENT BOB was the very last one I'll ever catch, because it was just such an unfunny waste of effort on my part (and on his part, too). I'd say I've blown half a day of my life watching an ongoing succession of poor films by him, and I'm not going to up that total to a full day. No way, man.

So, I suppose I've answered the first possibility too: Nope, haven't seen it. Not gonna. I've made my argument based on every one of his movies I've seen (I've only not seen Jersey Girl and Clerks II). I just don't need no tired porno or Star Wars jokes. Sorry, Fletch, but I outgrew that when I stopped waking and baking in my 20s.

That said, I still like Rogen and Banks. But even they can't drag me to this movie. Not on your previous existence, buddy!

Dean Treadway said...

And, by the way, I should point out that I made no arguments against the film. I was relying on Daniel's own review to make my case for me.

Dean said...

I really can't believe that you gave this a favorable review. IMO it's just further documentation that Kevin Smith really doesn't have anything new to offer. It's not enough that he's trying to ride the Apatow bus but he also took Judd's favorite actor for the ride. He hasn't had a good movie since Chasing Amy and his other outside projects (such as writing Daredevil for a stint) have been just as uninspiring.

Peterson said...

Outside of perhaps Dogma, this was the most complete "film" he's made. Compared to the likes of all else in his canon (I've not seen Jersey Girl), the acting was better, the direction was stronger, the editing - I thought the Zack/Miri scene and the scene set to the Pixies were well done.

DVD online said...

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Anonymous said...

It's "reeks", not "reaks".

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