*to protect the sensitive eyes of my readers
Look, I like Kevin Smith. He’s kind of like the loud, offensive friend you have at parties who makes everyone laugh because he’s so ridiculously out there. But when it’s just the two of you, sitting around on your couch, and he starts talking about some crazy Asian dog fetish movie he just saw, you’re like, “Dude, come on, enough already.”
I felt this way in Clerks 2, which I thought could have been the funniest movie of that year. But the best parts were when they were making fun of Lord of the Rings nerds, not when they were bringing in a donkey for a bestiality show. I’ve come to realize that Kevin Smith is like Judd Apatow, but with no restraint or use of subtlety, and that comes through in Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
Most of Kevin Smith’s movies don’t really care about having a “heart,” and busy themselves with slapstick and sex jokes (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Dogma, etc.) highly effective as they may be. In Porno, however, Smith is trying to find a heart amongst the filth, but he doesn’t quite know how to do it.
Yes, it’s touching that two lifelong friends can finally admit they’re in love, but the idea that they come to this realization through having sex on camera for a low-budget porno is something I’m just not buying. Compare this to Knocked Up which despite being an exceptionally dirty film at least shows a realistic path to a relationship between the two leads.
In Knocked Up, Seth Rogen reads the baby books, gets a job and a family sized apartment to show he cares. All he has to do in Zack and Miri is have sex with Miri, then proceed to not have sex with someone else, then make sure she doesn’t have sex someone else, then they tell each other they’re madly in love. Truly an epic love story for our time.
I was surprised Smith himself didn’t make a cameo.
That isn’t to say there aren’t hilarious moments that stand alone in the movie. Justin Long and Brandon Routh’s scenes as a gay couple at a high school reunion will be legendary, and Rogen and Elizabeth Banks are both very good in their own right, as is The Office’s Craig Robinson.
The film has good pieces, but the plot is often fractured inexplicably. They spend the first half an hour of the film coming up with the porn concept of “Star Whores” but the entire storyline is literally bulldozed after a long set up, and the crew decides to scrap everything and shoot the entire movie in a coffee shop instead.
I guess a super cohesive plot isn’t exactly why people love Kevin Smith’s movies so much, but if he could figure it out, it would make his projects even better. Zack and Miri is a good time, but I can’t help feeling like it couldn’t have been more with someone like Apatow behind the camera.
3 out of 5 stars
Kind of how I felt by the end.