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USA 2008
Directed by
Kevin Smith
97 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Zack And Miri Make A Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno, the story of two long-term friends who cross the platonic line and lose their sang-froid before realizing that they were made for each other is really a next-generation When Harry Met Sally 1989 (and in that respect the film is a good index of how mainstream values have changed in 20 years).  As much as the film is steeped in writer-director Kevin Smith’s trade-mark smuttiness, at heart it follows the classic rom-com formula, something which Smith pulled off with more style in Chasing Amy (1997) 

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are flatmates in wintry Pittsburgh who decide that the only way they can make ends meet (so to speak) is to make a porno with the help of a few friends (including Smith regular Jason Mewes). This eventually involves them having sex together during which there is an emotional tectonic shift which frightens them off each other but the inevitable comes about. (If you wanted another exemplar Greg Mottola’s Superbad (2007) which like this film was produced by Judd Apatow, follows the same soft-centred format).

You’ve got to hand it to Smith, he knows how to write dirty and for all the limitations of his imagination Zack and Miri Make a Porno fairly zings along dishing up the crassness not as offensive real-world crudity but rather how far-can-we-go naughtiness. As when Zack and Miri debate the merits of the Julia Roberts film Sleeping With The Enemy, Smith is always engaged in pop cultural one-upmanship, a kind of any-smut-you-can-think-of, I-can-think-smuttier roundelay. Which clever as it is on one level also has limited appeal (Superbad was much more charming in this respect).

Rogen and the improbably bootylicious Banks are such a likeable pair of dufuses that we run with the juvenile premise (Smith presses real-life porn-stars Traci Lords and Katie Morgan into service to give the film a surprising level of visual explicitness) but after it's all over, formulaically schmaltzy resolution nothwithstanding, you might be feeling in need of a shower.




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