Editors' pick

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno movie poster
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Kevin Smith wrote and directed this comedy about two friends who decide to make an adult film to solve their cash problems, only to discover buried feelings for each other once the cameras roll.
Starring: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson, Traci Lords, Justin Long, Brandon Routh
Director: Kevin Smith
Running time: 1:42
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Editorial Review

When archaeologists uncover the ruins of our civilization and marvel at our social decay, perhaps they will come across a copy of Kevin Smith's new movie, "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." They will undoubtedly point to this as a sad hallmark of our times. As soon as they stop giggling.

They'll look at this story of a bone-cold winter in Pittsburgh, where a schlub named Zack (Seth Rogen) has a lifelong babe of a friend and roommate named Miri (Elizabeth Banks), and wonder why this nice girl isn't somewhere else. Cleveland, say.

Times are hard, and the electricity gets cut off at home. So Miri agrees to have sex on tape with Zack, a coffee-shop clerk, to gin up some cash. Casting calls turn up various lap dancers, geeks and goofballs. They film after-hours in the "Bean and Gone" coffee shop, where Zack works.

Those archaeologists will note that Smith made his first low-budget feature, "Clerks," after-hours in the convenience stores where he worked. But, mostly, they'll know that after several years of bad movies, Smith decided to follow in the tradition of sex farce impresario Judd Apatow, so the movie feels, looks and sounds like the menage a trois love child of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Sex doesn't mean anything, these movies say, until you have it with someone else.

It won't take much to recognize that Rogen is reprising his standard role: a nonthreatening loser with a good heart. He's after sex, but not without some sense that love might actually exist and be worthwhile.

But, mostly, the excavators of the future will note that despite the crude humor, standard plot and one gross-out scene, they laughed out loud more than they should have, perhaps because everyone on screen seems to be having so much fun and because the movie wants its couple to find each other. This was originally rated NC-17, and somehow, I'm thinking that version will survive on DVD.

Zack and Miri would have wanted future generations to see it.

-- Neely Tucker (Oct. 31, 2008)

Contains strong, crude sexual content, including dialogue, graphic nudity and pervasive language.