Zack and Miri Make a Porno

By Adam Frazier

Aside from starring in writer/director Kevin Smith’s latest film, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” what do all of the above actors have in common? They’re starters on Judd Apatow’s comedic talent roster.

The director of films like “Clerks” and “Mallrats” hasn’t matured enough to make a first-rate comedy, but he has acquired enough insight (or is it, common sense?) to cast the familiar faces that have made films like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” comedic touchstones.

It seems like a natural fit when you think about it, being as both Apatow and Smith have a tendency to make crude, pants-down comedies with big, clunky emotional anchors. The difference is in how they’re carried out. While Apatow is the big kid on the playground, Kevin Smith is still in potty training – literally.

Smith’s latest flick focuses on lifelong platonic friends Zack (Rogen) and Miri (Banks) who are in financial dire straits. From the get-go, Smith lays out the potty humor in a string of excessive F-words, A-words, and the always popular C- and P-words. Smith makes sure his films will never be capable of entertaining the masses, only those with a high tolerance for elegantly delivered crudities and curses.

The two go to a high school reunion where Zack initiates a bathroom quickie with a married former classmate and Miri embarrasses herself by propositioning the graduating class’s hottest hunk, Bobby Long (Brandon Routh, “Superman Returns”), who turns out to not only be gay but also a big porn star, who’s in from L.A. with his boyfriend (Justin Long).

As you may have guessed, this is where Zack and Miri get their brilliant idea – resolve respective cash flow problems by making an adult film together, which initially takes shape as a sci-fi parody called “Star Whores.” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a “Star Wars” porn takeoff would appear in this Kevin Smith film, as the director is a huge fan of the series and seems to work it into every film he makes.

With the help of his longtime fellow coffee-shop workmate and “producer” Delaney (Craig Robinson), Zack gets the ball rolling on his porno. The cast is comprised of Lester (Jason Mewes, the not-so-silent half of Jay and Silent Bob), who can be ready for action at a moment’s notice; Bubbles (porn legend Traci Lords), a veteran performer at bachelor parties and Deacon (Jeff Anderson of “Clerks”), who qualifies as director of photography by having taped some high school football games. The gang is rounded out with Stacey (“Porn 101” star Katie Morgan), who performs sexual specialties.

Everything’s going great until the cameras begin to roll on Zack and Miri’s intimate sex scene, where the two are forced to assess their relationship and the unexpected feelings that arise from having so-called meaningless sex for monetary gain.

In the vein of films like “Knocked Up” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” takes a chubby, geeky guy and puts him in the fantastical scenario of having sex with a stunning, gorgeous woman who actually seems to like it. Needless to say, geeky guys everywhere are finally feeling vindicated – as if all their collective years spent as “the nice guy” might actually pay off somewhere down the line.

The chemistry between Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks is what makes this movie worth seeing. Banks is really coming into her own as of late and it’s only a matter of time until she breaks out and finds her place as a genuine leading lady. Craig Robinson, who has appeared in “Knocked Up” and more recently, “Pineapple Express,” is refreshingly funny as Delaney and hey, even Justin Long steals a few scenes.

After several disappointing films, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is Smith’s best cinematic effort since 1997’s “Chasing Amy.” Though it is especially crude and raunchy, the film still manages to be sweet and heartfelt. In the way that having sex can turn into making love, “Zack and Miri” manages to surpass meaningless potty humor and make a move towards genuine love.