Published at: Sept. 18, 2008, 9:40 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my thoughts on Kevin Smith’s newest ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO starring the adorable Seth Rogen (ha! Bet you thought I was going to say Elizabeth Banks!) and the very handsome Elizabeth Banks (ha! Bet you thought I was going to say Seth Rogen!) as BFFs who fall on hard times and decide pornography is the way out of their mountain of debt.
The buzz on this film was very strong coming off of Toronto, so I was psyched to see it. But I have to warn you… the movie takes about 10-15 minutes to find its voice. As much as I like Gerry Bednob (the “alligator fuckhouse” guy from 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN), he didn’t really seem to fit into this movie, playing Seth Rogen and Craig Robinson’s boss at a Starbucks-ish coffee house.
We really are hit up front with the Judd Apatow stock cast and I can’t really tell after one viewing if Smith was trying to replicate Apatow dialogue or if it was just the cast warming up for the feature. I’m leaning towards the warming up option because everybody is good in this scene outside of Bednob, who I think kind of dropped the ball on this one.
The flick really takes off when Zack and Miri head to their high school reunion and run into a very unlikely couple. Miri makes a fool out of herself hitting on the old high school football star, played by Brandon Routh… who is pretty much just playing himself… a Clark Kent-ish aw-shucks guy who wasn’t very nice to Miri in high school, but has grown up into a swell guy.
A guy who happens to also like swell guys as Zack finds out when chatting up Justin Long’s gay porn actor character, boyfriend of Superman. Suddenly we’re in a good Kevin Smith movie and it stays that way for the rest of the flick.
Imagine if Knocked Up, The Player, Orgazmo and Mallrats all came into the same Petri dish, got mixed together thoroughly and then artificially inseminated Chasing Amy and you have a good idea of what ZACK AND MIRI MAKES A PORNO is.
Seth Rogen is in top form, as funny as he’s ever been and not losing any of his shine yet. This script, in a way, was perfect for him because Rogen’s talent is being an everyman geek who is vulgar as hell, but has a huge heart.
Elizabeth Banks has a little bit of a tougher time here. She’s funny, she’s beautiful and she represents that kind of perfect love everybody has romanticized, even they don’t want to admit it. I’ve had it in my life, the Duckie situation. Hell, I’m kinda living it now, but the first time I fell head over heels for a girl she was one of my closest friend and I’ve seen how revealing those feelings can cause confusion and, in my case, altered my friendship for the worse.
But what’s tricky with Banks’ character is there comes a point where she has to keep your sympathy. You’ll know it when you see it, but if she didn’t fully bring it to this character the movie wouldn’t work because you’d stop giving a shit about her.
Jeff Anderson and Jason Mewes figure in as Zack and Miri decide to make this porno. Mewes is an actor with a special talent to get hard at the turn of a dime and Anderson is hired as a cameraman because he once taped the away games for their high school. It’s good to see both of them back and mixing the View Askew blood with the Apatow blood a bit, giving us something fresh from both camps. Although, I didn’t need to see Mewes’ dick. Very impressive, sir, but I would have taken your word for it.
The real MVP of the movie is Craig Robinson. Ever since he had that conversation with Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann in KNOCKED UP (“I can’t let you in ‘cause you’re old as fuck… for this club… not for… for the Earth…”) I’ve been a fan of this guy, an appreciation which has only grown as I’ve watched him on THE OFFICE and in the Apatow flicks as he gained bigger and bigger roles.
In Zack and Miri he plays Zack’s co-worker who becomes the main producer of the porno and it is Robinson’s biggest role yet. In fact, I’d dare to say he’s almost ready for his title shot. I wonder when he’ll topline an Apatow movie? It’ll take the right project because right now his biggest talent is in his matter-of-fact delivery, kind of tailor made for the straight man or supporting character.
He is funny as hell in this movie and helps make it one of Kevin Smith’s career best. It has the heart, it has the raw talent of some of the best comedians working today and it takes the comedy and the world seriously. I love the cartoony slapstick comedy stuff Smith puts out just as much as the next View Askewniverse fanboy, but when you get a movie with some true heart and well-realized characters along with your tit and shit jokes everybody leaves happy.
Bang! First review of Fantastic Fest out! I had the chance to speak with Kevin Smith earlier today and will post that interview when I can. Tons more Fantastic Fest coverage coming up!