Zack and Miri Make a Porno might be director Kevin Smith’s most accessible movie to date, even while it also seems like the one that least carries many of Smith’s defining characteristics.
The story takes two childhood friends, Zack and Miri, who have known each other since grade school and who currently live with each other – though in a non-sexual manner – as they find themselves in the middle of a financial problem. With little income and a lot of bills the two find inspiration to their difficulties at a horrendously uncomfortable high school reunion.
That solution? They’ll make a low-budget porno. Hence the movie’s title.
They recruit a hodge-podge of friends to help them make their movie. A co-worker of Zack’s becomes the producer because he’s the only one with money. A high school friend with a video camera becomes the cameraman. And a couple of ladies – portrayed by actual porn stars – become the stars in the movie.
In-between the problems with production that provide much of the movie’s comedy Zack and Miri provide the movie with it’s heart and emotional resonance. These two have known each other for 20+ years and never had a romantic relationship but decide, of course, that it’s going to be the least weird if they have sex on-screen. They just need to convince themselves that it’s not going to impact their friendship. But of course it does and it’s not hard to predict where the story will lead them to.
Zack and Miri doesn’t play like a Kevin Smith movie. By that I mean many of Smith’s verbal ticks are downplayed in the writing, or at least they’re less prevalent in the hands of the actors he’s cast here. While there’s an abundance of jokes about people’s private parts and a huge-honking Star Wars reference, it’s handled a little bit more deftly than is usually the case in his movies. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, portraying the titular couple, bring their own style to the characters and makes Smith’s dialogue flow in a way that it hasn’t really been able to in prior films. That’s not a knock against them – I’m a huge Smith fan – but it just works on a different level in Zack and Miri than it has previously.
The movie is now available as a two-disc DVD set. On disc one you’ll find just the movie. On disc two you’ll find a wealth of extras, including the “Money Shots” webisodes that were released on line during the film’s production and a collection of bloopers, ad libs and other fun outtakes.
The best part of the extra features, though, is “Popcorn Porn,” an hour-and-a-half documentary that chronicles the film from inception through the much-documented battle over ratings with the MPAA. This is absolutely the best thing (other than the movie) included in the set and I definitely recommend watching it after you watch the feature.