B

Zack And Miri Make A Porno

B

Zack and Miri

Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Gerry Bednob
B

Zack and Miri

Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Gerry Bednob

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A lot about Kevin Smith has rubbed people the wrong way over the years, from his self-aggrandizing efforts to build his "View Askewniverse" to his vision of a world where regardless of gender, race, religion, or social status, everyone's adept at raunchy sex talk. Mainly, Smith's greatest sin has been writing and directing a series of indifferently shot, choppily edited comedies in which all the dialogue—funny though it often is—sounds like one long monologue split between an assortment of flat, cartoony characters. Nevertheless, Smith is clearly a bright guy with a good sense of humor—even about his own failings—so it's nice to be able to break from the ritual of Smith-bashing for a change and say that his latest movie, Zack And Miri Make A Porno, is honestly enjoyable.

It helps that Smith is working with a cast perfectly suited to his style. In Zack And Miri, Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks play two longtime friends whose dead-end jobs and buy-now-pay-later approach to life has left them on the verge of losing their apartment. So in a choice that smartly—and kind of sweetly—mimics Smith's own rags-to-riches story, they decide to make a movie. Only instead of making a movie where people only talk about sex, it's one where they actually have sex. And the stars? Rogen and Banks, who discover as their big love scene approaches that they may be forcing themselves into a relationship level-jump that they both secretly desire. Zack And Miri features simple-but-effective staging, well-modulated performances, and a reasonably well-crafted narrative, with an outlook on adult romance that clearly comes from a personal place.

Not that Smith has completely matured. The film is clumsily unfunny at times—particularly when Smith makes tone-deaf efforts at gay- and black-themed comedy—and it's occasionally gross just for the sake of being gross. But while its romantic-comedy elements are by-the-numbers, the romance is touching, and the sequence where the two leads shoot their big sex scene takes some touching turns as it shifts from hilarious to something richer. Most importantly, Smith ties the love story to the idea that his leads pull out of their life slump by embracing their creative, industrious sides. After all his campus lectures and message-board rants, Smith seems to be re-introducing himself in Zack And Miri as a humble, hard-working guy—and one far easier to like.

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