Film review – Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks)

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks)

Zack and Miri Make a Porno delivers exactly what you would expect from a film by writer/director Kevin Smith about a pair of platonic long-term friends who decide to make a porn film in order to get themselves out of debt. The mildly amusing scenario allows Smith ample opportunities for his slightly contrived yet often funny pushing-the-envelope-of-taste humour. Zack was written for and is played by Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, Knocked Up) as exactly the same type of lovable, crass man-child character that Rogen plays so well. Elizabeth Banks (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Role Models) as Miri is also wonderful and has real chemistry with Rogen. A real strength of the film is that amongst all the comically graphic sex scenes, the scene where Zack and Miri have sex is unexpectedly sweet and sincere. This of course allows Smith to delve into his other favourite mode of getting all deep and meaningful about the nature of friendship and love.

Zack and Miri are classic Smith characters – foul-mouthed, low achieving slackers who are extremely likeable and funny. They are the type of characters that the audience want to see succeed, enjoy being in the company of and never feel threatened by. However, the presence of Rogen, Banks and so many other actors that frequently appear in the films of director/writer/producer Judd Apatow, often makes Zack and Miri Make a Porno feel more like a lesser Apatow film. There are, however, some of Smith’s regular actors in the mix and Jason Mewes in particular demonstrates that he is far funnier now when unburdened from playing the very limited Jay character from Kevin Smith’s earlier films. However, it is Craig Robinson (Darryl from the US version of The Office) whose comedic timing and delivery produce most of the big laughs in this film.

Delaney (Craig Robinson) and Zack

Delaney (Craig Robinson) and Zack

As enjoyable as Zack and Miri Make a Porno is, it doesn’t quite have enough material to sustain a whole film. At first the endless sex jokes do wear a little thin and too many moments feel forced. However, once the film shifts focus onto the changing relationship between Zack and Miri it does evolve into a likeable romantic comedy. It is not as good overall as Clerks II, let alone Smith’s earlier films Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma, but it will do. Smith’s films have always felt a little bit smug and self-consciously taboo breaking but there are enough genuinely outrageous moments in Zack and Miri Make a Porno to make it worth seeing. Smith may be in danger of becoming irrelevant now that Judd Apatow is so successfully dominating the low-brow-yet-has-heart comedy genre but Zack and Miri Make a Porno will still appeal to his legions of loyal fans.

© Thomas Caldwell, 2009

Bookmark and Share

Read more reviews at MRQE

Advertisements

One Response to Film review – Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

  1. Benicio says:

    I watched this the other night and wondered why certain actors were in this movie without clicking that it was a Kevin Smith movie. It makes much more sense now ;)

    I agree Jason Mewes does have a lot of potential when he’s not playing Jay.