Zack and Miri Make a Porno is the latest and greatest film in the seemingly invincible career of Rogen. He stars as Zack, an underachiever whose relationship with Miri, played by Elizabeth Banks, is anything but romantic.
They’ve been best friends all their life, live together and are about as broke as broke can be. Electricity is out, water has stopped running and Zack just spent his last $100 on a “flesh light,” an item you can research at your own discretion. Like any reasonable, ethical pair of individuals, Zack and Miri decide that the only rational solution is to have sex for money, in this case, by making a porno.
While the initial concept may seem far-reaching, it plays out with disturbing realism in a day where it seems like everyone is flat broke.
Director Kevin Smith, smile on face, notes, “This economic crisis has worked out in my favor; it makes Zack and Miri seem all the more plausible.”
For those uninitiated, Smith can arguably be referred to as the grandfather of modern comedy. The current boom of Judd Apatow-branded films are but the next chapter in the book of comedy that Smith helped write starting back in 1994.
Fourteen years ago, comedy was in a healthy, albeit contrived state, with the slapstick antics of Jim Carrey leading the way with hits like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Smith’s ubiquitous debut, Clerks, crept onto the scene relatively unnoticed, and more or less told the future of what we’ve been watching today. It focused on hilarious, fresh dialogue that sounded like it was written by Joe Schmoe instead of Perry the Producer.
Clerks was not a big movie. It was small in every way, from its budget to its admittedly modest production goals. But it launched the career of Smith, who would become essentially the Quentin Tarantino of comedy and remain one of the most renowned cult indie gems that has ever crossed paths with Hollywood.
Now Smith is proving to be akin to a fine wine as he just keeps getting better with age. Instead of employing Smith’s garden variety, Ben Affleck-fueled cast, he stumbled upon Apatow favorite Rogen after noticing his unique brand of brash humor in 2004’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin. He became so enamored with Rogen that he wrote Zack and Miri Make a Porno specifically for him.
“I wouldn’t have made Zack and Miri without Seth,” Smith declares. “This script would still be in my desk at home if he hadn’t been onboard.”
Luckily, Rogen proved not only onboard, but was truly ecstatic to be working with Smith. To put things into perspective, that little movie called Superbad, which Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg started writing when they were just 13, was directly inspired by the signature dialogue-based style of Smith’s films. Rogen remained a member of the ever enduring Kevin Smith fan club and signed on immediately once he read the screenplay.
Smith’s directing style represents a polar opposite from Apatow’s improv heavy, anything goes mentality.
“Kevin will get to a set and know exactly what he wants,” Rogen elaborates.
This style has remained his trademark over the years. Rogen knew this and to help him feel more comfortable with the different director and crew, he worked with Smith on acquiring the talents of his friend Banks and Craig Robinson, who appears on the hit show “The Office” and co-starred in this summer’s Pineapple Express.
Rogen worked with Banks on The 40-Year-Old Virgin and knew of her comedic talent.
“I was surprised Kevin hadn’t already had her in mind for the role, she has such a wonderfully dirty sense of humor,” says Rogen.
Banks and Rogen exhibit some true magic on screen, and you never once doubt that these two are meant to be. This alone is an accomplishment. Rogen’s teddy bear image is mighty “cute,” but did anyone actually believe he could end up with Katherine Heigl?
This narrative grey area is thankfully absent in Zack and Miri due to phenomenal performances from both Banks and Rogen, who pull off a pretty neat trick in having their characters really seem in love. The juxtaposition of crude and sweet in this film echoes recent Apatow projects like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, though, once again, Smith’s invisible hand as director makes sure that both spectrums achieve high levels of poignant brilliance.
Perhaps this is the most shocking element of Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The romance in Smith’s latest film is incredibly effective, almost uncomfortably so.
This is not just a “dude” movie, but really treads on romantic comedy as well. It somehow achieves a pitch perfect blend of boners and breasts.
Smith really has something to be proud of here, and Rogen adds another notch on his belt further indicating to the world how truly gifted he is at making us laugh. Take your girl, take your wife, even take your mom. Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a sweet, hysterical and altogether charming movie that should not be missed.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno releases in theaters Oct. 31.