Zack and Miri Make a Porno

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zack and mira

Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen film a scene in their movie.

So, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle is a hit and people love the title. That means this year we get a Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, and now Zack and Mira Make a Porno. What’s next? Steve and Gina Go to Fuddruckers and Giggle at the Name.

Okay people, let’s give these titles a rest for a few years.

Writer/director, and Comic Con regular Kevin Smith is back with a movie his fans will love. He has done some good films: Clerks, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob…but he’s done a lot of turkeys, too.

Here, he tries to get his raunch back by channeling Judd Apatow (and stealing Seth Rogen from him), to make a movie about pornography. Sort of.

Zack (Seth Rogen), and Mira (Elizabeth Banks) are a pair of college friends who share a house and have a platonic relationship. That’s easy to believe when you look at Banks, and look at the slob character Rogen usually plays. Of course, that does mean we’re going to get into the tired premise of “can men and women be friends without sex complicating things.”

So, to test this premise, they make their own version of When Harry Met Slutty (okay, that part isn’t true, but they do make a Star Whores).

It’s a cold winter in Pittsburgh (which is perhaps why so many pornos are shot in L.A.), and the power is shut off in their home. They try to think of ways to get money fast, and making a skin flick comes to mind.

This has them hitting clubs and placing ads in search of a crew. Zack talks his co-worker at the coffee shop to produce. He’s played by Craig Robinson (The Office), and he’s my favorite character in the movie. His subtle facial expressions are perfect.

Just as in Boogie Nights, real porn stars are brought in for authenticity. In this, that’s Katie Morgan and Traci Lords. Something about seeing Lords on screen I find repulsive. It has a lot to do with the lawsuits and things I read about her when she did pornography, and her attitude in interviews. I also think it’s odd that she thinks she deserves to just parlay all that mess into a regular film career. But I digress…

The previous mentioned Star Whores has some funny visuals and names. We get Hung Solo and a few characters I probably shouldn’t write. I think it’s safe to say that this movie might be a bit raunchy for some. It was originally rated NC-17, and somehow was edited down for an R.

I’m still shocked that a family brought their 4-year-old to the screening, and at one scene (which involved a cameraman and rather disgusting bodily function), the boy yelled “Oh, gross!!”

The crowd laughed. I turned around and said “Great movie to bring your kid to.”

Since Star Whores was a disaster, they instead bring filming into the coffee shop at closing time.

One of the problems with Zack and Mira is that it’s really just unconvincing; just like a real porno. We’ve all made fun of the goofy premises, where a pizza delivery guy shows up and four blondes jump his bones while uttering pizza puns and double entendres. Perhaps a love story and raunchy sex just don’t make the best bed-fellows (pun intended). I didn’t even mind the predictability of it all. How many movies do you see that aren’t somewhat predictable?

The movie was a bit gratuitous and sometimes tried for shock value, instead of just having stronger material written. That being said, there are some really funny scenes. It’s a shame a better movie couldn’t have been structured around them.

A few other cast members of note, include Kevin Smith regular Jason Mewes as a very creepy character they hire for the porn, and Justin Long as a gay porn star that shows up at a high school reunion. The scenes with him and his lover are hysterical.

This movie gets a C-.