Kevin Smith reaches comedy climax with ‘Zack and Miri’
After returning home from seeing Kevin Smith‘s new film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, for the second time, I was a bit disappointed to see the relatively low rating for the film on Rotten Tomatoes. A 66% fresh rating? That’s only three points higher than Clerks II! Even Smith’s self-professed worst movie, Jersey Girl, has a 40% fresh rating. Did the people who gave those ratings watch the same comedy that I saw?
Zack and Miri seems to follow the recipe for a great comedy. It takes one part View Askew cynical humor, one part Seth Rogen, a sprinkle of familiar faces from the Judd Apatow universe, and a little bit of romantic comedy sweetness, all garnished with a dash of full-frontal Jason Mewes, to make something that achieves what Clerks II only wished it could.
Rogen and costar Elizabeth Banks play the title characters in this romcom about two financially-challenged childhood BFFs who set out to make a porn film to avoid getting evicted. Along the way, they gather a crew of good-hearted misfits to help them achieve their goal. Everything seems to be going according to plan when suddenly Zack and Miri realize they might harbor feelings for each other that go beyond friendship.
Those looking for an Orgazmo-like commentary on the porn universe should stick to Trey Parker because Zack and Miri has much more to do with making your first low-budget film than with having sex on camera. Even Smith acknowledged the autobiographical nature of the film saying that it was inspired by the process of making his first film, 1994’s Clerks.
The scene-stealing turns from Gerry Bednob of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Office‘s Craig Robinson are proof that casting is everything. Even real life porn queen Katie Morgan gives a humorous, though at times over-the-top, performance.
In one of the funniest scenes, Justin (“I’m a Mac”) Long plays gay porn star Brandon St. Randy, who appears at Zack and Miri’s high school reunion with his boyfriend Bobby Long, played by Superman himself, Brandon Routh. Unaware of her former crush’s sexual orientation, Miri shamelessly throws herself at Bobby in an effort to finally sleep with him. Of course, at the same time Zack is chatting it up with Brandon about being in porn and bursts Miri’s fantasy bubble in a hilarious moment in the middle of the reunion.
The film seems to be a refreshing turn from Smith’s wordy, dialogue-heavy previous works and a step towards the Apatow gang’s natural dialogue and improvisation that made comedies like Superbad or Forgetting Sarah Marshall so fantastic.
Other bloggers seem to agree with my opinion that this film is one of Smith’s best, particularly in recent years. I can only credit Rogen’s influence for bringing funny back to the View Askewniverse like some sort of comedy Justin Timberlake.