Don't get me wrong: Zack and Miri Make a Porno is extremely disgusting at times. But I expected that. I didn't expect it to be quite so sweet or touching (in the emotional way, gutter mind). I'm a huge Kevin Smith fan (as you may have noticed from my Comic-Con coverage of him), and this latest product of his dirty, dirty mind does not disappoint. It's one part sex jokes, one part sweetness and eight parts F-bombs. It's certainly not for everyone and it's not going to go down in history as a cinematic tour de force, but it is hilarious and raunchy and oddly sweet.
Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have been best friends since childhood, and now they room together in a Pittsburgh apartment. They're not the most ambitious pair, and when they run out of money, they need to come up with some fast cash in order to pay the rent and bills. Thus, they decide to make a porno. Their friend Delaney (Craig Robinson, just as funny as he is on The Office) helps with casting, and soon four more (including real-life ladies from the world of adult entertainment, Traci Lords and Katie Morgan) join the project and the group is on its way to making a pornographic movie. But things get a little complicated (see? I could have used the word "sticky," but I didn't because that would have been gross) when these two just-friends decide to have sex together on camera. The main joke seems to be that pesky things like emotions and love get in the way of great, entertaining porn. For more on why I so enjoyed this movie, read more.
As I said, I like Kevin Smith's stuff in general, but this movie is on a different level, due in large part to the outrageously endearing lead duo. And here is an example of a male-female, lifelong friendship that honestly rings true, as opposed to other attempts like, say, the absurd relationship at the heart of Made of Honor. Seth Rogen seems like a guy you might legitimately be friends with, and it's so easy to relate to the funny and kinda weird Elizabeth Banks. They're just so dang lovable! So it stands to reason that in the movie, they would love each other.
Smith gives a lot of credit to Judd Apatow for having paved the road for mainstream acceptance of this style of comedic movies, films that theoretically could be called romantic comedies, but with humor so raunchy you gag a little sometimes. And it's true: With the success of comedies like 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, audiences have been exposed (har-dee-har) to this kind of humor in an appealing way and with likable actors like Steve Carell and Seth Rogen. But I actually think Smith is even better at this than Apatow is. His stories are set in places like New Jersey and Pittsburgh, for Pete's sake. There's just something beautifully unkempt and down-to-earth about these characters, and this somehow makes the funny funnier, the dirty dirtier, and the sweetness that much sweeter.
Photos courtesy of The Weinstein Company