Friday, November 07, 2008

Review-Zack and Miri Make a Porno



I'm going with a friend to see Kevin Smith speak/lecture/perform here in the area later this month so we felt practically obligated to go see his newest movie, ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO. Yesterday, we did. In the interest of full disclosure I should note that, the Internet being what it is, Mr. Smith and I have some mutual friends but I have neither met nor spoken with him before.
That said, the film had been garnering some very good reviews for this type of movie--even here in the Censornatti area (which advertises it simply as ZACK AND MIRI) so I expected a good turnout. We arrived for what turned out to be a private screening at 4:30 PM. It wasn't meant to be a private screening but, less than a week after its opening, no one else showed up! Bad for the movie but good for us. We took the high ground in the stadium seats, kicked off our shoes and put our feet up on the chairs in front of us. My friend felt perfectly comfortable in laughing and talking as loudly as she wanted about the film and we remained undisturbed throughout the picture.
It is a good picture. At its center its a good old-fashioned, "Hey kids! Let's put on a show and save the old homestead!" picture, wrapped up in a deceptive coating of raunch. Much of the picture's success is owed to the actors in the title roles as well as to Smith. I had never seen either Seth Rogen or Elizabeth Banks before but they both came across as old friends (both to each other and to the viewer) from their first scene. Their relationship throughout the film sparkles with a classic chemistry and a perhaps unexpected sweetness. Rogen's comic timing seems effortless and he never misses a beat with Smith's traditionally explicit, realistic dialogue. For her part, Ms. Banks matches him every step of the way and throws in an added depth that the part probably didn't even need!
The picture's plot is given away in its title. These two long-time platonic friends decide to make their own no-budget porn film to keep a roof over their heads and hilarity ensues. Toward that end, they cobble together a quite motley crew of lovable losers to help them. The supporting cast includes Smith regulars Jason Mewes (seen recently at Mid-Ohio Con) and Jeff Anderson, both playing very different characters than usual. Also appearing are former porn legend Traci Lords and current porn performer, Katie Morgan. The former, who has long since proven her acting abilities, looks pretty bad in this but offers a fun performance. Ms. Morgan was the revelation. Cast as a dumb blonde actress, her comic timing is unexpectedly fun to watch. Since acting is normally not a requirement for her day job, she is all the more impressive and one wishes she had more schtick to do. Her naked bits (they ARE making a porno after all, remember?) are nowhere near as interesting as her comic bits. Her real life sounds interesting, too-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katie_Morgan. Justin Long and Brandon (SUPERMAN RETURNS) Routh are so hilarious as a gay couple, also, that they are brought back in the middle of the closing credits! For no apparent reason, Zombie makeup artist Tom Savini appears in cameo.
ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO is a dirty, dirty picture. In spite of all of the dirty trappings, however, what comes through the most at the end of this subversive love story is heart. Kevin Smith continues to be a most inventive and creative filmmaker and I can't wait to see what he does next.
Oh, and did I mention there's snow scenes? I'm on record as saying that any movie with good snow scenes is automatically a good movie!

1 comment:

Ralph C. said...

I enjoyed this movie, too. Seemed to be a typical Smith film to me, which is just fine.

I am a Kevin Smith fan, from the first time I saw "Clerks" and "Mallrats". I first saw Seth Rogan in a t.v. show called "Freaks and Geeks" in 2000, then he was on "Undeclared" and has been in the Judd Apatow movies like "The 40-Year Old Virgin", "Superbad" and "Knocked Up", amongst other things. Elizabeth Banks I first saw in "Spider-Man" (she plays Betty Brandt) and she was also in "The 40-Year Old Virgin".

Rogan's method is more improvisational (that's how the Apatow movies are usually done) while Smith is a "say the words in my script" director, so that was an interesting intermingling of two nearly opposite worlds-- and it works. Funny is funny, no matter if it's structured or improved.

Fun film. Can't wait for the DVD since Smith's movies have great extras and commentaries. Kevin is supposed to do a funny sci-fi movie and also has a script for "Red State", a horror movie that he has said isn't your typical horror film-- the horror's to be more subtle.

Smith's also doing a three-part Batman story called "Cacophony" with fellow View Askew actor/comic shop worker/artist Walt Flanagan. It's coming out this month.

(No, I don't work for Smith or View Askew.... I just like his stuff).

Please share you thoughts of his show after you see it on the site, if you weren't planning on doing that already. I have two of them on DVD and they are very entertaining. He's good at it. Enjoy it.