Monday, November 10, 2008

Movies: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Judd Apatow simply is the new humor, and even though he technically had nothing to do with this movie (which is actually much better than your average Judd Apatow movie, being ever-so-slightly more restrained), writer/director Kevin Smith admitted that he expected audiences would think that he did—which didn't seem to bother Smith at all. It's clear from start (the stick-figure ad campaign reminisces of the "I hate you Sarah Marshall" one) to finish (full-frontal flaccid male nudity) that Apatow has seeped into Smith's comic consciousness, and perhaps pushed out some of the more arty, intellectual inclinations (I'm thinking Clerks here, the definitive Kevin Smith movie), but while certain Apatow-tendencies headline (Seth Rogen, of course), the classic Kevin Smith touches (Jason Mewes' Jay, who's finally cut his hair, but hasn't changed his voice) are still what make the movie.

Zack and Miri (Rogen and the Elisabeth Shue-reminiscent Elizabeth Banks) play long-time platonic pals and roommates having a quarter-life financial (and social) crisis. The night of their ten-year high school reunion, they lose their water, power, and heat, and then make fools of themselves in front of their old classmates. Over bottles of beer at the bar (don't ask me how they can pay for those, but not their rent), Zack gets the brilliant idea that they can make a quick buck by shooting a cheap porno and marketing it to all their classmates. For some reason, Miri eventually agrees, and they hold open auditions to cobble together a cast/crew consisting of their selves, Zack's coffee-chain coworker (who puts up his flat-screen money for a camera instead in exchange for the title of Producer and the concomitant rights to hold "titty" auditions), a few random guys (one of whom is the woody Lester (nee Jay), another a soft, short boy who will happily take it up the ass from a stripper chick wearing a strap-on), and a few random girls (said stripper with strap-on, and another stripper with the cheapest, most embarrassing boob job you've ever seen, who refuses to give blow jobs but likes anal).

The group makes the best of some minor mishaps (the original screenplay is a Sci-Fi: Star Whores) before realizing that the best place to film the movie is at Zack's chain coffee shop. They shoot a number of scenes between the more experienced actors before Zack and Miri make their debut together—a scene much more romantic than sexual, and lacking in all the special angles and noises and nonsense that make porn, well, porn. They have clearly now discovered their love for each other, but rather than living happily ever after (because that wouldn't be any fun!), they let themselves be controlled by embarrassment and jealousy; that night the cast has a little party and one of the strippers hits on Zack (with Miri's approval, of course). The two go upstairs together and Miri is sure they have sex. The next day, back on set, Miri wants to do her sex scene with Lester, and Zack gets so angry that he storms off. The movie never gets finished. When Miri goes home to find Zack, his room has been stripped bare.

Of course in the end they are reunited with the help of their friends and they confess their love and cry and hug and everything ends nicely. But there's nothing to talk about there—all romantic comedies must end this way. What there is to talk about is the thing that leads to their separation: that shit-testing that women do to men (if Miri didn't want Zack to sleep with the stripper, she should have told the stripper so, and, more importantly, she should have told Zack, instead of testing him) and that icing-out that men do to women (if Zack didn't want Miri to sleep with Lester, he should have told her, and told her that he loved her, instead of lying and telling her that their sex had been meaningless, just acting). And the lessons to be learned (men and women are shitty to each other because they are frightened and confused) are Apatow lessons, not Smith lessons.

1 comment:

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