Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

3.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5 out of 53.5

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Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen were bound to work together. Both the Clerks auteur and the Knocked Up schlub have erected their careers on arrested adolescence and geek chic, and both cloak unexpectedly old-fashioned worldviews behind a veneer of gutter-patter. While the cock n’ weed jokes of Rogen padrone Judd Apatow reinforce family values, Smith’s barrage of bawdy putdowns belies the desire to do a great, soulful romance.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno is not that film, but it is Smith’s most affable production in years, a characteristically patchy comedy that nevertheless improves on the retrograde circle jerk of Clerks II simply by swapping the cocoon of View Askew cutesiness for the riskier zones where sex meets emotion. The effects—half sublime, half ruinous—that physical consummation can have on platonic friendship are the basis, told via the story of Zack (Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks), roommates and lifelong pals whose dead-end jobs and piled-up bills call for desperate measures. The answer to their financial woes comes as Zack, inspired by a high school colleague’s gay-porn career and Miri’s granny panties-clad appearance on YouTube, suggests they start their own erotic epic.

Is the film’s skin-flick setting Smith’s knowing admission that his filmmaking isn’t that different from your average porno-shoot mise-en-scène, or is it a gloved dig at archrival P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights? Either way, Zack and Miri quickly weaves past and present members of the adult industry (wry Traci Lords, bubbly Katie Morgan) into its ensemble of Smith-Apatow regulars, which also includes a nicely fretful turn by Craig Robinson as the couple’s boss-turned-producer, and a typically skeezy one by Jason Mewes as the project’s would-be cocksman. Smith could never aspire to a raunchy version of French Can Can, though the film’s portrait of smut as collaborative art would have worked better with fewer lazy jokes. (It’s nice that Smith can work his George Lucas obsession into the shoot, but is a title like Star Whores really the best he can come up with?)

At the center of an ocean of hit-and-miss gags, however, is the years-in-the-making romp between the title characters, an unexpectedly lovely sequence that, depicting the sudden crystallization of a couple’s feelings for each other in the middle of a makeshift porno set, confirms the director’s mostly unused gift for emotional intensity. If the deed itself is sweet, leave it to Smith to fudge the foreplay and drag the afterglow. After convincingly depicting how their sex scene—the difference between “fucking” and “making love” to one of the starlets, but “boring shit” to the producer—can either bring Zack and Miri together or tear them apart, Smith dodges ensuing tensions by conveniently keeping the characters apart until the predictable finale, resulting in a third-act slackness that no scatological money shots can cover up.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno doesn’t offend as much it disappoints, revealing yet again in Smith a distinctive voice with little to say and, even worse, one willing to sacrifice rarer talents (a feeling for emotive wavelengths) in favor of the ones (pothead in-jokery, hipster hostility) that pad the walls of fanboy cultism. The characters may be able to get off on camera, but viewers hoping for an expansive collision between the sensibilities of director and star will end up with blue balls.

Image/Sound

Aside from some inky blacks, the image on this two-disc edition of Zack and Miri Make a Porno is pretty solid. Ditto for sound: groans, slaps, squirts, and Seth Rogen's incessant chuckle are all loud and clear.

Extras

Disc one of this two-disc edition includes the theatrical version of the film plus an extensive series of deleted scenes. If it feels like you're watching the movie all over again, it's because the deleted scenes are essentially extended scenes that flesh out plot points and character relationships that were excised from the final cut of the film, including an alternate opening sequence that explains why Elizabeth Banks's character is wearing "granny panties" in the first place. Disc two includes the one-hour-plus featurette "Popcorn Porn: The Making of Zack and Miri," in which director Kevin Smith reveals that his idea for the film dates all the way back to 1997's Chasing Amy, Smith and Rogen discuss the test-audience process, and we get an inside glimpse at the making of fake poop; a lengthy series of promotional "webisodes" (clips, interviews, and the like) used to virally market the film online; a for-the-most-part funny collection of outtakes, ad-libs, and bloopers; "Seth Vs. Justin: Battle for Improvisational Supremacy," raw footage from Rogen and Justin Long's gay-porn conversation at Zack and Miri's high school reunion; and a Comic-Con panel discussion with Smith.

Overall

Get more bang for your buck with this two-disc edition of Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which is fudge-packed with plenty of titillating bonus features.

Image 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5

Sound 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5

Extras 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5

Overall 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5 3.5 out of 5

Specifications
  • DVD-Video
  • Two-Disc Set
  • Dual-Layer Discs
  • Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Dolby Digital Formats
  • English 5.1 Surround
  • French 5.1 Surround
  • DTS
  • None
  • Subtitles & Captions
  • English Closed Captions
  • English Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • Special Features
  • "Popcorn Porn: The Making of Zack and Miri" Featurette
  • Money Shots Webisodes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Comic-Con 2008
  • Gang Bang: Outtakes, Ad-libs and Bloopers
  • Seth Vs. Justin: Battle for Improvisational Supremacy
  • Buy
    DVD | Soundtrack
    Release Date
    February 3, 2009
    Distributor
    The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment
    Runtime
    101 min
    Rating
    R
    Year
    2008
    Director
    Kevin Smith
    Screenwriter
    Kevin Smith
    Cast
    Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Jeff, anderson, Traci Lords, Katie Morgan, Ricky Mabe, Brandon Routh, Gerry Bednob, Justin Long