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Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri may be the funniest comedy we've seen all year, a surprisingly smart, raunchy -- even sweet film. You'll have a blast with this one.


On the surface, Kevin Smith has crafted a clever concept, a ragtag group attempts to make a porno film in order to get some quick cash. The underlying story is the platonic relationship between roommates Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks), whose friendship goes to a whole new level once they find themselves out of cash and decide to cast themselves in their own triple XXX film. After meeting a gay adult film actor at a party, Zack comes up with the get-rich quick idea to make a porn movie, enlisting Miri's help and convincing her that it will not affect their friendship. They set about casting the rest of the film with a disparate group of participants, including the very self confident sex maniac Lester (Jason Mewes), superstud Barry (Ricky Mabe), gorgeous blonde bombshell Stacey (adult film icon Katie Morgan), and daring, kinky Bubbles (legendary Traci Lords). What seemed like a simple proposition turns complicated when Zack and Miri, in the heat of simulated lovemaking and in front of the whole crew, discover they may be more than just friends.


Even considering his great work in Knocked Up, Zack is Rogen's most accomplished character to date, a lovable loser who uses last-ditch initiative to turn his life around and in the process discovers more than he ever bargained for. Chemistry is a tricky thing, but Rogen certainly has it in spades with co-star Banks, who takes what could have been a broadly sketched role and turns Miri into a three-dimensional woman who doesn't even realize her true soul mate may be right under her nose --literally. You root for these two all the way. The wonderful supporting cast is unique, to say the least, including adult film star Katie Morgan, making her mainstream debut as the ditzy Stacey. After some 200 "real" XXX films, she graduates to the big leagues in style and shows she may have a future outside of her niche. Lords, who made that leap some time ago, niftily sends up her own former image and shows fine comic chops and a willingness to dress deliciously inappropriately. As for the guys, Mabe is very funny, but Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob), lets loose with a hilarious and totally uninhibited portrayal of a sex addicted tattooed dude willing and able to do anything on camera. Also nearly stealing the show is The Office's Craig Robinson, a married crew member who is excited to help out buddy Zack because he wants to see "titties." And in extended cameos, Justin Long, as a gay porn star, and Superman Brandon Routh have a great time sending up their straight movie images, playing bickering boyfriends.


Kevin Smith has always gone for the jugular, challenging the ratings boards and pushing the envelope in his films ever since the classic "dirty movie" Clerks made him famous. But not since his early films, such as Chasing Amy, has he showed such style and maturity as a filmmaker as he does in Zack and Miri, his most outrageously hilarious and accomplished movie to date. Yes, he does continue going for shock value (there's a laugh-out-loud moment involving a certain bodily function, natch), but his story is grounded in reality, recognizably human and engaging. He milks this genius comic premise for all its worth but gives it an extra dimension that makes it different, unexpected and finally memorable. Mostly though, it's just plain fun.

Bottom Line rated this film 3 1/2 stars.