Movie Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

By Matthew Huntley

November 4, 2008

They're all in very different places right now.

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Kevin Smith is obsessed with sex, masturbation, genitals and cussing. To Smith, these subjects never grow old and continually offer ways of seeing just how far he can push the envelope while still securing an R rating from his friends at the MPAA.

I like Kevin Smith movies, even his much-maligned Jersey Girl, which fans seemed to write off not because it was a bad movie but because it strayed too far outside Smith's usual antics of, well, sex, masturbation, genitals and cussing. Jersey Girl was also rated PG-13, and for many Smith fans, that's blasphemy. I welcomed it as a nice change of pace for the writer-director, who, yes, can make movies outside the genre of crude sexual humor.

But with Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Smith stays well within his usual comedic realm, which fans should easily eat up and non-fans could learn to like because of its outrageous situations and likable characters. It's about two best friends so strapped for cash they resort to pornographic filmmaking just to keep a roof over their heads. It sounds incredible, but in this day and age, when someone can record something one minute and post it on the Internet the next, it's well within reason.

Zack and Miri, played by the suddenly prolific Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, respectively, have been best friends since the first grade. Pushing 30 and living in Pittsburgh, they share a dumpy apartment, work in the same town where they grew up, and are unable to convince themselves they've done anything meaningful since they graduated high school.


At their 10-year high school reunion, Miri attempts to bed the school hunk, Bobby Long (Brandon Routh of Superman Returns), but Zack lets her in on the fact Bobby is there with his own boyfriend (Justin Long, quite funny), a gay porn star from L.A. Miri is crushed, as are her plans to use Bobby for money to pay off her and Zack's escalating debts.

That night, which happens to be the night before Thanksgiving, Zack and Miri's water and electricity get turned off and they keep warm by burning their bills in a trash can. Zack's idea: make a porno and sell it to everyone in their graduating class, and then some.

Together, Zack and Miri begin recruiting the cast and crew. For anyone familiar with Kevin Smith, this is an ode to his motto that anyone can make a film. Zack asks his coffee shop co-worker, Delaney (Craig Robinson), to be the film's producer since he can finance the project with the money he would have used to buy a new plasma TV. He asks another local, Deacon (Jeff Anderson), to be the director of photography because he used to tape varsity football games in attempt to sleep with "any cheerleader."

During the cast auditions, Zack, Miri and Delaney round up a motley crew of wannabe porn actors, including Lester (Smith-movie regular, Jason Mewes), Barry (Ricky Mabe), Bubbles (Traci Lords), who earns her name for a very specific reason, and Stacey (Katie Morgan), a local stripper. And voila! They have everything they need to make a movie, including a makeshift sound stage at the coffee shop called the Bean-N-Gone and their own catchy title (which can't be printed here, but it's mixed with the word "cappuccino").

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