(No longer in theaters)
Comedy, Drama, Romance
The Weinstein Company
Oct 31, 2008
The comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno has a peerless come-on. Two Pittsburgh apartment-mates (Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) can’t pay their bills and have a Eureka moment: Why not get into the amateur sex-video trade? They assemble a John Waters–like family of freaks, cobble together a plot based on Star Wars (Star Whores, ho ho), and have at it. Although Rogen is the leading man, the movie isn’t the latest raunchy excrescence from Judd Apatow Factory. It’s written and directed by Kevin Smith—and hats off to him for being savvy enough to go for a piece of the Apatow action! Too bad he doesn’t rise to the occasion. There is nudity (not by Banks but a couple of real—or, as the case may be, silicone—porn stars), but the movie is mostly grating banter (F-bombs and anal-sex jokes) with a mushy center. It all comes down to whether Zack and Miri, platonic buds for so many years, will endanger their friendship by having sex on-camera. And when they do, will they realize that they’re meant for each other?
Rogen, Zack and Miri’s biggest commercial asset, might also be its biggest liability. Now, I could be wrong about this: Perhaps Rogen is catnip to the ladies, the Daniel Craig of sex farce. But this is not a man who appears to take good care of his body, and the movie doesn’t use his lack of physical appeal as a source of laughs—as Apatow sort of did in Knocked Up. The way Smith treats Rogen strikes me as the way he’d treat a young Tom Hanks or Jason Segel of Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Justin Long (who has an overlong cameo as a gay-porn actor)—the quick-witted nerd who could also be a dreamboat. But when Rogen sheds his clothes and climbs atop the lovely Banks and the bells ring and the fireworks explode, well … Imagine if James Franco played Zack, and Miri was an out-of-shape woman with bad skin and a big honker. Can there be that much of a double standard when it comes to actors’ looks?