Watching “Porno”

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Provided Photo

Wes Lawson
Daily Egyptian
“Zack and Miri Make A Porno”
Rated R
Starring: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson
Directed by Kevin Smith
Run time:  101 minutes
4.5 out of 5 stars

In an age of comedy filmmaking that is largely dominated by Judd Apatow and his crew of misfits, it’s interesting to see how the original master of the vulgar, Kevin Smith, fits into the comedic landscape. Ironically, his new film, “Zack and Miri Make A Porno,” feels like a merger between the freewheeling improvisation of an Apatow film and the verbose sexual dialogue that Smith is so well known for.
“Zack and Miri,” his first film in almost two years, is a sweet little comedy that also delivers big laughs, which is not exactly expected from a movie with this title. Smith has long been criticized for making movies that are remarkably similar, but the critics fail to realize that this is his unique voice, and in this film, it comes through loud and clear and produces one of the best romantic comedies in ages.
The film’s plot is pretty much right there in the title. Zack (Rogen) and Miri (Banks) indeed make a porno. Zack and Miri have been best friends since the first grade and now live together in destitution in the town they grew up in. They decide to make a porno shortly after their 10-year high school reunion, when they are completely broke and lacking heat, water, and basic amenities. OF course, they are completely clueless on how to actually go about making a porno, so they enlist a guy from their high school class who used to shoot basketball games, one of Zack’s coworkers (Robinson) and a variety of amateur talent to craft a film whose title cannot be revealed in the context of a review. And of course, while producing the film, Zack and Miri are forced to acknowledge that they had feelings for each other all along, which is difficult to do when you are getting paid to have sex on camera.
The film has been the subject of controversy for some time now, mainly because of its title, and it even got banned from a theater in Utah for being too sexual. Judging by what is actually in the film, the Utah theater owners never saw the film. Yes, there is full frontal male and female nudity, and there is plenty of on screen sex, but it’s all played for laughs and the sex isn’t much more titillating than what you would see in countless other R-rated films. Most of the horrible sex content is in the dialogue, which Smith is well known for, and even then, it’s not much worse than other films, even though it comes at such an overwhelming clip that it’s hard to keep up in the midst of the laughter and fun.
Even though this is the first film by Smith to not take place in New Jersey, it stil has a distinctly small town feel and an intimacy between the characters that is completely organic and fun to watch. Rogen and Banks have great chemistry together, and the supporting cast gets numerous chances to shine. Props should also go to Smith for utilizing two real porn actors (Traci Lords and Katie Morgan) as actors within the fake porn film, and actually giving them something to do other than have raunchy sex. Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson, two Smith regulars, are in the film as an actor and the cinematographer, respectively, although Mewes gets one of the film’s biggest laughs in describing a sex technique that no one in the audience will ever have heard of.
For a film that is so funny and so completely raunchy, it’s also surprisingly sweet. The love story between Zack and Miri is believable, if a bit underdeveloped, and their final scene together is remarkably tender. Really, the film’s only flaw is that this part of the story didn’t get enough time to develop, but it’s a minor quibble in a movie that pretty much does everything right.
Kevin Smith has delivered another winner as a writer/director. “Zack and Miri” is a film that will stand the test of time far better than some of the films Judd Apatow has put out, and in a few years, when the great comedies of this decade are listed, this one will certainly be on it.

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