Capone gives ZACK & MIRI MAKE A PORNO a four-boner review!!!
Published at: Oct. 31, 2008, 9:32 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
In so many ways, Kevin Smith's latest sex-drenched love story is the best thing he has ever done. For years, I'd always held that CHASING AMY was his best crack at combining four-letter words with a believable love story. But ZACK AND MIRI surpasses all previous View Askew-niverse offerings thanks primarily to its cast, made up largely of newcomers to the Smith stable. But Smith also seems more loose and happy to be working outside of the confines of the Jay and Silent Bob collection of regulars. Okay, fine, Jason Mewes (Jay) is in this film, but he's used in a much different way here. Jeff Anderson (one of Smith's CLERKS twosome) is also here, still dishing out sarcasm like so much tasty macaroni and cheese, but the meanness of his old character Randal is gone. More importantly, Smith has cast Seth Rogen, an actor who grew up wanted to be in a Kevin Smith movie, and his commitment to this material is stellar and fearless. Also on hand is the very busy Elizabeth Banks (W., ROLE MODELS, and Rogen's co-star and bathtub lover in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN), who is not only the loveliest borderline homeless woman ever, but she has a comedic chemistry with Rogen that makes her the absolute strongest female character Smith has ever written.
ZACK AND MIRI is a film of the times. The two best friends for as long as they can remember live together as roommates, have never slept together, and are perpetually broke. In the current economic times, I think a lot more folks going to see this movie are going to be able to identity with Zack and Miri's predicament (if not their solution to it). After having most of their utilities cut off and with the threat of eviction hanging over their heads, they decide to make an amateur porn after a YouTube-like video of them in their underwear makes them internet stars. They enter into the production as professionally as they know how. They hire a producer (Craig Robinson of "The Office," who plays Rogen coworker at a coffee house and just happens to have a little bit of money to invest), a cinematographer (the one guy they know who knows how to actually operate a video camera), and cast would-be porn stars (some played by real porn stars, like Katie Morgan and legend Traci Lords). At first they decide making a spoof of a real movie is the best call, so they write a script for a film called "Star Whores," but eventually the story becomes simplified and is set and filmed in the coffee house after hours.
The elephant on the set, as it were, is the tension that builds as a scripted sex scene between Zack and Miri fast approaches, and while they promise that doing the scene won't change their relationship, the fact that they're even talking about it proves that it will change everything. And about the sex scene, it might be the fucking funniest fucking scene ever fucking committed to fucking film. Feelings are altered and neither one is prepared for it or knows how to react to it, leading to some ugly words and hurt feelings. I've heard different people have wildly varied reactions to these sequences, with men and women saying they don't like the way Zack behaves post-coitus and/or the way Miri acts. I think that says something about Smith's writing, which paints a very believable conflict of feelings between the two friends. And while I would call Smith's script "sophisticated," I would say that it's his most mature, even amid all of the boobies and vulgarities.
Even amidst all of the heavy emotional contest, Smith keeps us laughing steadily. An opening sequence at Zack and Miri's 10-year high school reunion, featuring Justin Long and Brandon (SUPERMAN RETURNS) Routh, belongs in the lexicon of Smith exchanges. Craig Robinson has been a great supporting actor for a number of years now in KNOCKED UP and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, and it's great to see him hold is own in one of the larger roles in this film. There's a sequence near the end of the film where we see him at home with his wife (Tisha Campbell) that is so wickedly funny, you'll have trouble breathing. I was especially impressed with Katie Morgan's work (dressed and undressed). She has an energy and unexpected comic timing that would make it fairly easy for casting directors to consider her for future, clothed work.
It seems a bit played out to talk about how Smith seems to borrowing from the Apatow way of doing and casting films, since Apatow probably borrowed a thing or three from Smith's brand of humor and way of generating material. If anything, ZACK AND MIRI is a tribute to how much these actors appreciate the ground that Smith broke as a writer and maker of low-budget comedies, and I hope Smith continues making films this complete and deep feeling. In truth, only Kevin Smith could have made the most romantic film of his career and still fill it with some of the foulest and most over-sexed language and situations in movie history. It's actually the perfect blend of every tool that Smith has in his arsenal, used to tell a sweet love story set in the world of amateur porn. I think I'm in heaven.