Zack and Miri Make a Porno

My wife recently got a stack of Mills & Boon novels from a friend and basically devoured them over a couple of sessions. Seeing them reminded me of the problem I’d always had with M&B — neither is it good writing in service of a love story, nor is it sufficiently raunchy to fit in the other category. So what exactly is the appeal? Don’t bother, I probably just have the wrong plumbing to understand it.

Anyway, when I see M&Bs, I am usually reminded of Kevin Smith. Why? Because he’s a bleeping good writer of both romance and raunch. Most of the time, he’s expounding on Star Wars, the more arcane causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the gayness of popular fictional characters (Archie & Jughead, Frodo & Sam etc.), all of it interspersed with more f-words than you can shake a bleeping stick at. But while you’re reeling under the profane verbiage, he manages to sneak in moments of true romance that remain in memory long after everything else has faded.

On top of which, he seems to have an uncanny knack of making his women unforgettable. I don’t think I’ve ever been impressed with Joey Lauren Adams in any movie other than Chasing Amy. Even if all the world recognizes her as either Arwen or as the girl who romped around with Alicia Silverstone in Aerosmith’s Crazy video, I will always remember Liv Tyler as the video shop girl in Jersey Girl who got bored easily. Heck, he got J-Lo and Ben Affleck together on screen for 5 minutes and they were luminous. Tell me, who else has managed that?

And now, Elizabeth Banks as Miri. The woman is gorgeous, has an absolutely wonderful laugh and does justice to the profanity-laced dialogues that Kevin Smith comes up with. After having languished on the fringes for a number of years now, Banks is finally coming into her own as a leading lady to watch out for. I’d love to see how well she does in more serious roles. But when it comes to playing women in the Kevin Smith/Judd Apatow universe, in her own words, she can “Meryl Streep the s*** out of this thing”.

Seth Rogen, that pudgy actor who has pretty much made a career out of playing lovable losers, plays her best friend and housemate Zack. When the two of them find themselves flat out broke, he hits upon the idea of making a porno with the two of them in it. The fly in the ointment — apart from all the obvious ones you might think of, and a few you didn’t have the imagination to come up with — their friendship has been platonic thus far. They manage to convince themselveas that they can convince their genitals to do the deed without their heads and hearts making a big deal out of it. But of course that doesn’t happen. When does it ever?

Outside of the rather unique way in which these complications arise, this is standard rom-com material. Other than the lesbian angle in Chasing Amy, I’d say that Smith has hardly ever been imaginative when it comes to his love stories. A big reason why they work is that his leads are usually very articulate and evenly matched. You want them to end up together if only so that they could keep talking.

While the plot chugs along to its predictable conclusion, Smith has plenty else to keep us distracted. Craig Robinson plays the financier of this little enterprise and finds among the best reasons to say “I love the movies”. Erstwhile porn star Traci Lords plays a character called Bubbles — rarely do people have a better introduction scene in the movies. Jeff Anderson (Randal from Clerks) plays the cameraman who finds that there are occupational hazards he might not have ever dreamed of. Justin Long and Brandon Routh make a cameo appearance that absolutely had me in splits — I don’t think Long has ever been funnier in any of his past work. But topping them all is Jason Mewes (Jay to Smith’s Silent Bob in the earlier movies) who manages, right at the end, to teach us that one can never presume to know everything there is to know about sex. Smith ought to file a patent for the Dutch Rudder — it’s unique, useful and non-obvious. Even to Traci Lords, I suspect.

ps: No, I’m not telling you what it is.

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5 thoughts on “Zack and Miri Make a Porno

  1. I saw this in theaters last year and enjoyed it – shame it wasn’t the success it probably should’ve been, being a movie with a popular lead actor, known director and a funny script. Nevertheless, fun flick. One of my friends noted, “It’s funny how a movie about making porn ends up celebrating love, and sex with the person you love”.

    • True. To quote Jeff Anderson froom the movie, Smith is a slick Cupid m*****f***** 😀

      My guess is, it will find a loyal following on DVD and make some money there. Some movies are like that.

  2. Liv vs. Joey says:

    Wait, I thought Arwen (the Elven princess who “plights her troth” to Aragorn) was played by Liv Tyler (an Aerosmith connection there too), not Joey Lauren. Am I missing something?

    But I did think the latter was perfectly cast as Alyssa in Chasing Amy.

  3. S says:

    Never mind. Despite the (presumably misplaced) pronoun, it makes perfect sense when I read it now.

    About your “ps:” — meanie!! Guess I can make up my own reference. Isn’t it the “thing” they use in this thrilling-show-that-I’ve-yet-to-see called The Game of DRones? (Arguably, yet another “arcane cause for Carpal Tunnel syndrome.”)

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