Kevin Smith's 2008 film Zack and Miri Make a Porno could potentially be a second universe within Kevin Smith's movies. We have Askewniverse made famous first by 1994's Clerks, and for the first time, Kevin Smith has made a film outside of that universe that's good enough to be able to actually start it's own saga. With Kevin Smith's trademark dirty jokes, conversations that have no point or go nowhere, and protagonists with not a hell of a lot of redeeming qualities to them, this film could potentially be destined for cult classic status much as Clerks was and still is. The movie is about two lifelong best friends who're down on their luck and their rent. The two attend their highschool reunion where they realize that just about everything has changed for everyone, while they have pretty much stayed the same (similarities to Dante Hicks and Randall Graves ?). After the reunion, their power is cut off at their apartment, so the two decide to go out and have a beer. After talking about desperate times and circumstances, Zack (Seth Rogen), inspired by the popular mainstreaming of porn, and a video shot of Miri (Elizabeth Banks) posted on the internet in her underwear, pitches the idea to make a Porno, to which Miri eventually consents. The movie title sums up the whole story from start to finish.
The story, while summed up by the title, is truly classic comedy, and in a way, has never really been done before as far as I can tell (...maybe Boogie Nights). Taking two down and out best friends bound to make a porno, a man who is over-experienced in the field of sexuality (and possibly a sex offender), a ditzy strip club waitres with a tiny little dog, a very nerdy guy, and a woman able to blow bubbles with her genitalia is the recipe for a hold your sides comedy. Like many of Smith's films, it is filled with nice little tidbits common to his films. And by tidbits, I mean overly vulgar language and sex jokes, various pop-culture references, and the famous random conversations with no point to them. The only thing missing was Jay and Silent Bob, but the clever set of characters almost compensates for that, but I love the doper duo.
The casting job was an example of pure genius, Seth Rogen for me automatically makes it worth seeing. I've been none too familiar with Elizabeth Banks until this film, but I can say she's one of the better actresses I've seen on screen, and is perfect to play the role of the best friend. Even though we don't have Jay, we have Jason Mewes playing an equally dirty minded individual, however, he's less intelligent, and actually appears to be at terms with some potential homosexuality. Whether it be Jay, or Lester the Molester, Jason Mewes is the perfect man to play such dimwitted, sexual deviants. Craig Robinson and Jeff Anderson are always a treat to see on screen, both being very comedic and great actors. Craig Robinson playing the socially ackward and whipped Delaney, and Jeff Anderson as Deacon, the skilled camera man and unconventional hockey player who will never again feel the same about toilet jokes after a fiasco on screen. It was good to see some real porn starts, Katie Morgan and Traci Lords, in this movie, to give it at least a little bit of authenticity of people trying to make pornos.
There actually really isn't much to say about the soundtrack, as for me, it fell fairly backseat to the overall hilarity of the film. They had some 70's type porno music playing during some of the sex scenes, but still, soundtrack is one of the places where this movie doesn't perform up to its potential, which is actually somewhat sad. You do not need a dominant soundtrack to enjoy this movie though, so rest assured, I'm not dogging this movie for having an overall background soundtrack.
The script is vulgar, depraved, and full of swearing. In other words, the script is awesome, there is nothing in this film that's not uncommon to any Kevin Smith film out there. Like I said in regards to the story, you get the full Kevin Smith Package, no one is safe from his genius in this film. As a matter of fact, I could say that the script is definitely a step-up from a lot of the stuff he's directed in the extremities department. Definitely something for the Kevin Smith fans out there, and definitely a redeemer to Clerks II. Anyone new to the Kevin Smith universe..hmm, well, watch Clerks first, before deciding to watch this movie, it's definitely a step-up in the crudeness of the subject matter.
The Bottom Line:
Zack and Miri Make a Porno is definitely something for the cult film history books. This is a great film, but, like my positive review of American Psycho, I can't recommend it to everybody. The content matter, language, and rather frank depiction of pornography in the movie may be a little too much for mainstream popularity, and will probably remain a cult classic, like many of Kevin Smith's films. I believe it will be an instant hit with Kevin Smith fans, with people who appreciate and have a high tolerance for sexual humour, and just for people who have a soft spot for films with a cult following. This is, without a doubt, my second favourite comedy movie of 08 (just behind Tropic Thunder), a must-see in my book. WARNING: Do not see this movie if you're sensitive to sexual humour, have virgin ears/eyes, or if you expect fairly cliche subject matter from your movies.