Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008): Almost a Satire of a Romantic Comedy

Zach and Miri Make a Porno

Kevin Smith is a director whose work I have yet to review, until today. Most of my experience with him is with “Dogma” since I haven’t reviewed and of the “Clerks” films yet, but definitely will at some point. He has a certain style though, that I noticed that still comes out in this film, even if it fees more like a Judd Apatow movie at times (the leads as a good example, Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks).

“Zack and Miri make a Porno” was directed and written by Kevin Smith, and produced by Scott Mosier.

The story involves Zack and Miri who are two roommates and friends living together who are so far in debt working jobs they don’t like when they get an idea after a video of Miri in her underwear goes viral and one of the guys in their school is dating a Gay Porn Star to make a porno together. From here the story involves them getting the team together and the drama that ensues from there.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The humanity – No character is a caricature. This is one thing I was worried about when they were going about casting for their porno, but all the side characters and the leads are treated with respect. They have pros and cons and are human like everyone else. No character is just played for laughs, it is more the situations that create the laughs.

The Music – The music is wonderful, James L. Venable did a good job. At times it has a rock star feel, other times a bluegrass feel, but in every situation it enhances the scene, which is one thing good soundtracks can do.

Zack and Miri – I actually liked these characters. When you first meet them they are horrible people who only want sex and to avoid paying their bills and in forming any kind of meaningful relationship, but after hte High School Reunion and power and water getting cut they are forced to by circumstances. They both do a good job playing the lovable losers and I wish their responsibility arc had finished up and not been undercut by turning their pretty neat relationship into a romance. For much of the film their relationship satires a romantic comedy…which I’ll go into later. Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen play their roles very well.

Satire of a Romantic Comedy – At times this film feels like a satire of romantic comedies, and it is in those moments it works. An example would be them growing closer in filming the porno while still having so much focus on the work even as relationship grows. It is done in such a way they could have kept that and ended the relationship with them having community (the cast and crew) responsibility and success and left the romance open. The parts were all there to make it work. Some of the best humor was here, especially in their interactions with the porn stars and making the costumes and set.

Star Whores – Kevin Smith loves “Star Wars” them making a porno and doing the photo shoot for it before the place got torn down in the film was funny. You could see the actors and actresses really got into it and the dialogue was funny too such as the names of the Sequels and “The Prequels Trilogy.”

Con: Magic Sex – Everything changes when they have sex in their porno scene. I don’t deny this happens or could happen, but in this it felt that it was given more power than it deserved, given that both of them had already been with so many people and that hadn’t made them jealous or possessive with one another. It was part of what made it work.

Zack’s Possessiveness – Dude, she is your friend…act like it. When he wrote the script he has it so he has sex with two people while she only does him. The silver lining in this is she stands up to him and says it isn’t okay. Miri is a great character…and Zack get’s over his possessiveness by the end thankfully.

Delaney’s Marriage – Delaney’s marriage is made to show that relationships don’t always work. He is in a loveless marriage with his wife and when you first see her all they do is fight. Hell, a big part of why he helps make the porno is he wants to see breasts. I would have liked to see some positives in how the relationship was done. Craig Robinson is good at playing the friend though, it’s just his character’s marriage that is poorly written. I get the fighting, would have liked to see some reason why they were together still.

So, how did the film hold up? It had the seeds for greatness here, but only ended up being a movie I liked. The comedy for the most part, worked. The story…by turning it into a straight up romantic comedy, cheapened how great romantic comedies were being satired in the piece. I’m curious if Kevin Smith changed his mind partway through, since the first 2 acts really promote the satire and build the friendship and getting out of circumstances thing…while the 3rd Act is them becoming romantically involved, which really was the weakest part of the movie because it shifted the tone so drastically.

Would I still recommend it? If you like romantic comedies and are down with the subject matter, yes. If you like Kevin Smith, I’d also say yes. Just know in both cases it isn’t great. It is okay/good.

Final score for the film is 7 / 10

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