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Review: Zack And Miri Make A Porno

Zack And Miri Make A Porno
Director    Kevin Smith
Starring    Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Justin Long
Release    31 OCT (US) 14 NOV (UK)    Certificate 18

Rating:


With the credit crunch biting hard, there are only a few constants in the current climate. One, that guys will always jerk off to pornography. Two, filmmaker Kevin Smith can always be relied on for a foul-of-mouth, sweet-of-heart comedy with a lion's share of toilet humour and sentiment. Three, Middle-England will always make it their mission to get offended by anything even half-a-percent more racy than Victorian-era decency laws will allow. Zack And Miri Make A Porno, therefore, arrives in cinemas at precisely the right time to satisfy the wankers, boost Smith's directorial canon and piss off every Daily Mail reader in the country.

Any placard-waving campaigners have literally no excuse for protesting this time - that title does kinda give away the film's content. Out of ideas, no-hoper friends Zack (Rogen) and Miri (Banks) decide to make and star in a gonzo porno to pay the bills, subscribing to the theory that everyone will watch anyone fuck ("If you told me there was a Rosie O'Donnell sex tape where she gets fucked stupid, I would be like 'Why the fuck aren't we watching that right now?'"). Production of Star Whores isn't exactly smooth and eventually - predictably - feelings get in the way.

You know what you're getting with Smith, he's built himself a cute little niche: all filth on the outside, all heart beneath the profanity. His films are often shamelessly puerile - indeed, Zack And Miri may hold the world record for uses of the word 'cock' and its variants - but most importantly, they never forget to be funny. All characters here are either motivated by sex and/or money, but they exist in a universe - the View Askewniverse, remember - where such shallow traits easily translate into laughter.

Smith, for all his technological advances - check out the crane shot, ooh la la! - still hasn't graduated from his potty mouth origins. But then, this is the man who has claimed his career is built on "dick and fart jokes" - so why change a winning formula? In truth, even some die hard Smith zealots may find Zack And Miri's content too near-the-knuckle - he's gone from bestiality in Clerks II to scat porn here; fingers crossed for anal fisting in Red State - but he's a director who's always pushed the envelope for what's acceptable and his talent for turning profanity into profundity remains. Dialogue is snappy and witty for the most part, and Smith can write angry (a spat reminiscent of Chasing Amy's closing argument) and happy (a surprisingly subtle post-orgasm scene) when he puts his mind to it.

Crucially, in Seth Rogen, Smith has found the perfect conduit for his brand of comedy. Easing up on the 'witless stoner' act that's threatened to derail his career this year, here Rogen is entirely lovable and 100% relatable. With the looks (and laugh) of Fozzy Bear, he's the anti-movie star - practically one of our own. Banks, however, gets a slightly tougher role to pull off, Miri written as a glossy tomboy too perfect to be real. She's cute enough and exudes warmth and vulnerability, but there are character deficiencies so large that even Banks' winning smile can't cover them up. Miri is a typical woman written by a man: cool, filthy, horny and willing to fuck her friends for money at the drop of a hat. What, she never considered stripping instead of skin flicks? Or telesales, even?

The supporting cast are a mixed bag. Craig Robinson - the brilliantly dead-pan warehouse manager from the US version of The Office - is a highlight, suiting Smith's acid-tipped dialogue down to a tee. The rest of the cast, however, possess about as much acting talent as porn stars - basically, because that's what they are. Traci Lords and Katie Morgan really only exist to flash some flesh, while Jason Mewes is perhaps the only actor Smith could convince to bare all for the camera. Ever wanted to see his nut sack? It's there for all to see, projected three feet tall up on screen.

This is a Kevin Smith film through and through; sex and semantics, Star Wars and wank gags, poo and porn. Some may tire of Smith's template of toilet humour and tits, but to others, those very same qualities are a guarantee of entertainment. Love him or hate him, Kevin Smith isn't afraid to hit new lows to get new laughs and Zack And Miri sees him gamely plumbing those depths to at least some degree of success.


Tags:  Comedy  Kevin Smith  Sex

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Luke
Posted by Luke at 14:31 on 09/02/10
Justin Long is the highlight in anything, though.

"Says here you're fucked up and you talk like a fag"
"There's that fag-talk we talked about"
"Plenty of 'tards out there leading kickass lives"
"My first wife was retarded. She's a pilot now."
"Why come you don't have your tattoo?"
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