' Cinema Romantico: Zack and Miri Make A Porno

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Zack and Miri Make A Porno

So based solely on the above title of writer/director Kevin Smith's film one is left with three obvious questions. 1.) Do Zack and Miri really make a porno? 2.) If so, why do they make it? 3.) And if so, is making a porno really all they do?

To answer the initial query, yes, Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) really do make a porno. I cannot stress this enough. There is gratituous nudity. A lot of gratuitous nudity. And because it is, as stated, a Kevin Smith film ("Clerks", "Mallrats") there is even more gratuitous language than gratuitous nudity. There is enough gratuitous language here to fill every ship in the navy. It comes in waves, giant, monsoon season waves of cursing. And there is a visual gag that is so disgusting I won't even attempt a metaphor because no metaphor could accurately convey how awful it is.

Okay, so they make a porno. But why are they making it? Well, they're making it because platonic friends since first grade Zack and Miri who are now roommates are low on funds and, thus, their electricity and water is shut off the night before Thanksgiving. However, a recent trip to their high school class reunion afforded them the opportunity to meet a Hollywood porn actor (Justin Long) who speaks glowingly of the business's financial windfall and since Zack and Miri have just become internet sensations due to unfortunate and gratuitous circumstances they hit on the idea to make a porno film and reap the rewards. They enlist, among a couple others, Kevin Smith utility-man Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay & Silent Bob, who I admit to not recognizing until he finally put on a stocking cap), real-life porn stars Traci Lords and Katie Morgan (who, and this might just be me, had a speech pattern eerily similar to Jane Krakowski's on "30 Rock") and Craig Robinson who as Delaney, Zack's co-worker at a coffee shop, becomes producer of the porno and darn near steals the real movie.

Robinson is the warehouse manager on "The Office" and you get glimpses of his brilliance - that dry, extremely deadpan delivery of his - and here he shows just how hilarious he can be with more screen time. He is saddled with a wife who is mentioned again and again as being crudely awful and because Smith hides her until the end she takes on an almost mythic quality. When she is revealed, Robinson's line to close out the scene is perfectly delivered. It will make you want to cheer. I almost applauded it.

In the end, however, the movie turns out to be a little bit more than just a backstage story. The structure follows that of a traditional romantic-comedy fairly faithfully. In the third act it even turns into what the esteemed Roger Ebert has coined as being the Idiot Plot, wherein if one character just said one thing than everything everyone goes through wouldn't be necessary. Boy and Girl who like each other slowly come to realize they love each other except just when they are about to reveal their love something in the screenplay stops them and then other entanglements arise that prevent this reveal and then Boy and Girl get mad at each other and break apart and....I hope I haven't given away too much! But the beauty is found in the fact that amidst the Idiot Plot and the sea of all the gratutiousness the movie against all odds really does turn out to have a heart and to make you root for the two leads.

A lot of articles prior to its release made the comparison between "Zack and Miri" and the many recent films of Judd Apatow ("The 40 Year Old Virgin", "Knocked Up") but I will go on record as saying that while I may not have laughed as hard and consistently as I did at some Apatow films I actually found "Zack and Miri" more moving. I truly did. I really enjoyed this movie.

It takes its time to set us up for the sequence (set to "Lift Me Up" by Live, and I don't even like Live!) in which the two platonic friends finally are forced to have sex for the sake of the porno and it is pure and affecting in a way a great deal of "serious" movies aren't, even as the rest of the movie crew stands off to the side watching. Allow me to summarize things by being Movie Review Quote Guy because I just can't help it.

The scene in "Zack and Miri Make A Porno" in which Zack and Miri finally have sex is the most luminously romantic three-and-a-half minutes of the entire year! Guaranteed!

2 comments:

The Fab Miss B said...

I have to agree. We went into this movie expecting it to be sort of crude frat boy humor and I was so pleased with how it turned out to be incredibly romantic. (I am embarrassed to admit I actually teared up a bit!) I thought this was largely due to Elizabeth Banks who was wonderful in this movie and the clear distinction they made between the sort of sex you see in pornos and the sort of sex you have when you love someone. It was actually quite beautiful.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Yeah, Elizabeth Banks is a really good actress. I couldn't help but think a few times that she and Seth Rogen were a little like my generation's Diane Keaton and Woody Allen.