Zack and Miri Make a Porno

zackmiri

What if, one time, when Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney made one of those “let’s put on a show!” movies, they actually fucked, and filmed it?

OK, now imagine, instead of Garland and Rooney in a glossy golden-age MGM musical, it’s Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen in one of writer-director Kevin Smith’s decidedly elementary View Askew Productions (albeit with Weinstein Company distribution and a budget of nearly a quarter-billion dollars). If nothing else, it is a testament to the ever-evolving hots we have for romantic comedy. 

It is also–and not just because other organs are more directly involved–a no-brainer. For example: Seth Rogen in a Kevin Smith movie? Arguably Smith’s scrappy mid-nineties missives of raunchy camaraderie paved the way for the more recent movies that brought Rogen to stardom, so in a way it’s about time. Those two seem as utterly made for each other, as united in common (and plebian) purpose, as, well, Jergens lotion and the internet: They may cancel each other’s nobler prospects by association, but certainly they can fulfill a baser destiny together. Just bear in mind that the most vulgar thing about this movie is how unfunny it sometimes is. 

Zack and Miri have been friends since first grade. Now, sibling-like and not romantically involved, they live together in a crappy Pittsburgh apartment, mutually unwilling to motivate beyond their register-jockey jobs, unable to pay their bills, and unimpressive on the occasion of their 10-year high-school reunion (an expectedly dreary affair save for the catalyzing appearance of Brandon Routh as a jock heartthrob and Justin Long as his gay-porn-star lover). Zack and Miri are not, however, mutually unguarded–maybe because they are undeclaredly in love. Do you think? Well, it will take some sex to find out. Which of course could ruin their friendship–even if the sex weren’t being videotaped and positioned, so to speak, as a last chance for solvency. 

Nervous and titillated, they do argue about whether this is the wisest financial planning. Porn has gone mainstream, Zack figures. The audience is automatic. It’ll be easy. Miri says if it’s so easy, how come everybody doesn’t do it? “Because other people have options,” Zack replies. “And dignity.”

Porn really has gone mainstream, of course, at least enough so that Zack and Miri’s cast includes the actual porn performers Katie Morgan and Traci Lords–along with an often hilarious Craig Robinson as Zack’s black-and-proud coworker and eager if bashful “producer,” and the self-revealing Smith regular Jason Mewes as the stud of the production.

It being a mixed bag, talent-wise, is part of the charm. Rogen does his aimlessly schlubby, warmly witty thing, sometimes with enthusiasm, sometimes apparently bored by it. Banks does intimate orgasmic and post-coital bliss so convincingly that you’ll wonder if your own girlfriend is faking it.

Which is to say that yes, they do it. And in the same way it’s a knowing joke that Zack and Miri’s tender, revelatory moment together actually makes for boring porn, Smith uses the framework of the premise to play into his own aesthetic limitations. Here we have a barely-there dramatist with a tendency to run on in each scene instead of moving on from it. We have a corny plot, awkwardly staged, brightly lit, dully photographed and clunkily paced. We have an inherently watchable group of performers, whose enthusiasm, however pretended, abets our own, and whose signature spurts of impolite euphoria focus our anticipation. Come to think of it (har har), who has a better feel for the rudiments of porn than Kevin Smith?

One thought on “Zack and Miri Make a Porno

  1. I get what you’re saying about Zach and Miri Make A Porno. But to suggest that about Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney at that time would be like somebody at any time pissing on The Alamo grounds. Porn films at that time were the ultimate taboo. It would be the end of a promising career for one, and the subject of scorn, ridicule, and, not to mention, obscenity trials. The times back then were too conservative for such filth to spread throughout Hollywood, much less the use of the f-bomb, as mentioned on this blog.

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