A professor once said that if an essay is well-written, the title of the paper can and should be written with just six words or less; however, this hasn’t necessarily been the case, as many horrible papers have had six word titles as well.
Sticking to the rule of six-word titles, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is not an academic paper, but for the purposes of this review, we will treat it as one.
Director Kevin Smith (“Clerks,” 1994) stands out from most of his Hollywood peers due to his often hilarious comedies, but “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is his equivalent of a flunked take-home mid-term.
Smith’s latest hyped movie begins with title characters Zack and Miri preparing for their 10-year high school reunion. The movie stars Seth Rogen (“Pineapple Express,” 2008) and Elizabeth Banks (“W.” 2008) as lifelong friends Zach and Miri who live together.
Zack ends up spending most of the night trashing his peers from the past, even though both he and Miri acknowledge they’ve done nothing with their lives.
Miri’s sole mission for the night is to bed star football player Bobby Long (Brandon Routh, “Superman Returns,” 2006).
Unfortunately for her, Zack finds out that Bobby is gay and has a porn star boyfriend. Justin Long (“Live Free or Die Hard” 2007) lights up the movie with his brief role as the gay porn star simply known as Brandon.
Miri’s devastating reaction is shown side by side with Zack’s conversation with Bobby.
This is perhaps the best comedic scene in the entire movie, as the timing of the lines is perfect. After finding out about Bobby’s alternative lifestyle, Miri becomes incredibly drunk, leaving Zack to drive them home. When they arrive back to their small apartment, they find that the heating system has been cut off (as their stack of unpaid bills gradually grows).
Realizing they are broke and have no way to make money, both decide to make a porno to meet expenses. Both Zack and Miri have no living relatives nor self admitted respect or shame, so making the film wouldn’t jeopardize them. They also see it as a marketing opportunity, as they figure everyone from their high school graduating class would be interested in seeing it.
Zack’s job as a coffee shop barista isn’t cutting it and neither is Miri’s role as a clothing shop sales associate.
What follows is a disastrous production of an erotic parody of “Star Wars” that is known as “Star Whores.”Although the assembly of their movie goes well, the days leading to the filming put both Zack and Miri on edge mainly because both have known each other for more than 20 years and although both claim their relationship won’t be changed by sleeping together (much less on camera), the duo hold their own private doubts.
“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is a confused mess – the film can’t decide if it’s a raunchy sex comedy or a stereotypical romantic Harry and Sally scenario (can a man and a woman be just friends?) Trying too hard both ways instead of finding a middle ground is the biggest blemish of the movie (besides the painfully dull plot).
Although it is more than possible for a movie to be both bawdy and tender, “Zack and Miri” just can’t pull it off.
Smith gets sloppy here with his directing and writing – there isn’t enough material within the characters. We don’t know of their pasts (besides the parents of both are dead and that they met in the first grade) and the conversations between the two are either laden with sexual innuendos or denials that they have the hots for each other.
Some scenes seem hastily acted while others are brilliant; once again, there is no happy medium.
At its core, “Zack and Miri” is a comedy and it does not lack with laughs – some are physical gags, others are clever puns but mostly the classic type of humor Smith is known for.
Besides the hasty ending, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is just a mediocre offering compared to Smith’s past cult hits, but then again, the plot title pretty much details the entire movie. Devoid of substance, Smith’s movie left me with six words of my own – this was a waste of time.
My rating – 3 out of 5 stars.
“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” runs at 101 minutes and is rated R for strong crude sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity and pervasive adult language.