Zack and Miri Make A Porno *1/2
One Liner Review:
It’s somewhat funny and interesting for a while, despite it’s simple-minded plot, but things become way too routine and predictable in the movies second half.
Brief review: this movie has a simple premise and yet it is well-made and funny and gives us believable reasons that would lead up to this premise coming true. seth rogen is right at home here, playing his usual slacker-dude role and when he and his roommate, miri, lose their power and water, they decide to make a porno in order to make some money. of course a love story forms out of that, and it’s everything you could predict and would hope not to happen from what started out as a pretty fresh premise. it’s the parts that come before the love story that are good, and everything that comes afterwards that is lousy and cliched. if not for those later scenes, this would have been a much better movie.
Zack And Miri Make A Porno starts out pretty decent. in fact, for the first half of the film or so, this actually seems like one of kevin smith’s better movies. that’s probably because seth rogen is involved and he somehow manages to find the right comedic tone for nearly every movie he is in. sure there are exceptions, such as observe and report, and funny people, but more often than not, this guy is genuinely funny and not only gets the jokes, but also finds the right way to deliver them.
Zack And Miri Make A Porno starts out this way, being about two good friends (zack and miri), who live together as roommates, and also work together at a coffee shop. zack (rogen) is a total slacker. rogen is basically playing the same character he plays in every other movie, and that’s totally fine. miri (elizabeth banks), is a little more ambitious, and yet she finds herself in a situation where she is living with zack, working for minimum wage, and unable to pay her bills.
the two of them have a major problem with the electricity and water being shut off in their apartment, and aside from that, they have two experiences which point them in the direction of deciding to make a porno. the first once comes when they are at the coffee shop and miri is changing in a back room with the door open. two teenagers who are sitting in the shop, spot this and grab their phone. they quickly turn on the video camera feature and record miri changing, showing her granny panties. then these guys post the video on the internet and it becomes a sort of sensation, getting tons of hits.
the other event that points them towards making a porno happens while they are at their ten-year high school reunion. miri has a crush on a guy she used to be in love with back in the highschool days, played by brandon routh (superman returns.) she is flirting with him for a while, not realizing that this guy is gay, and that his boyfriend is actually there, at the party with them. zack is the one who uncovers the truth, by speaking to the boyfriend, (played by justin long), and learning what he does. the boyfriend is a porn star. zack then goes on to ask him lots of questions about the business.
that’s how these two get their idea. now they just need a place to film their porno, some actors to use, and some money. zack twists the arm of one of his coffee shop coworkers, delaney (craig robinson), and the guy gives over the money he was saving up for a new tv and puts it toward the movie project. from there, it’s casting time. they hold auditions and meet a number of interesting actors, including lester, played by jason mewes (long time kevin smith friend, and jay of the jay and silent bob team.)
they rent out a room in an apartment building and get their costumes together, all set to film a porno version of star wars. the costumes and ideas they come up with for names and plot threads here are all great. this is some very funny stuff. but then something happens. a monkey wrench gets thrown into their plans when the building they are filming in gets torn down, having been scheduled to be demolished without their knowledge. not only do they lose their set, but also all of their equipment and costumes.
that’s when they have a breakthrough idea. use the coffee shop. as for a camera, zack is such a bad employee that his boss has installed a security camera to spy on him, and that’s what they end up using to film the movie. now the second half of the film begins. we get a bunch of scenes of characters who have been hired just for the movie having sex with each other. aside from jason mewes, there’s also traci lords on hand here, the porn star turned actress who is well-known even though she really hasn’t done much other than the movie cry baby and a small cameo in blade.
it isn’t long before it’s time for zack and miri to have sex. this is the scene that the whole movie has really been based around. i don’t mean the zack and miri movie, i mean the porno they are making. the key scene features the two of them, because they are the stars. they are so into each other that the two of them both refuse to have sex with anyone else in the movie. they film the scene and it is supposed to be like magic. unfortunately this is also where the movie starts to go downhill beginning with miri falling back on some sacks of coffee beans after zack has left the room, with a glow on her face as if she has just gone to heaven.
the cliched moments are just beginning at this point. we get two different scenes where each one of them thinks the other one slept with someone else. we get scenes where characters withhold information for no reason at all, and even though the other person is mad at them, this person just keeps letting the other one believe the lie. the whole thing is ridiculous. each one of them lets the other believe for some time, that they had sex with someone else. and then, of course, it is revealed that this isn’t true. there’s actually a third time this happens, all within about ten minutes. the first time is zack and this girl stacey. the second time is about miri filming a scene with lester in the movie. and the third time is when zack finds lester in miri’s bedroom. one time would have been acceptable. three is just overkill and stupidity.
while the movie plummets pretty hard in it’s final twenty minutes or so, it’s unfair to forget that for most of the movie this was something kind of fun. seth rogen fit this character really well, and his dialogue with delaney, among others, was pretty great. this guy is a natural comedic talent and here he is playing the kind of role he does best (as opposed to observe and report where he was playing a totally different character.) the movie has a pretty simple premise, but it finds ways to make it work and to make it believable. i like the way there were two different events which pushed them in the direction of making this happen. if only the ending were a little smarter and a little less cliched, this could have been a very good film. as it stands, it is just okay.