Written by Kevin Smith
Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson

The main goal of a movie like Zack and Miri Make A Porno is to make you laugh. In that regard, the film is a wonderful success. If the second goal is to contain some heart and make you feel it is also a success. So, yes, this is a successful movie, but as far as Kevin Smith’s movies go, this is a bit of a disappointment.

I don’t want to sound too negative throughout this review, as this is a nearly great comedy that I highly recommend, but I must declare I am a big fan of Kevin Smith. My favourite film ever is Chasing Amy, with many others of his high up on my list. Out of his filmography, Make A Porno ranks above only Jersey Girl, a movie most Smith fans have tried to forget. It has some great dialogue but it lacks some of the quotables of his other films. More importantly, there is no attempt at raising the bar substance wise, making this the third lateral movement in a row after the surprisingly meaningful, insightful and affecting Chasing Amy and the almost equally great but far more ambitious following film Dogma. Both those movies had the great dialogue, the great heart but they also had something to say.

Kevin Smith is at the top of his game, however, in one very touching sequence. Eventually, longtime best friends Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have to “perform” on screen together. The ensuing result is of considerable emotional weight. As Zack later puts it, “we were supposed to f**k, but ended up making love”. The story of two friends discovering what was under their noses all along is told very well here.

In comparison to Smith’s other work this is most like Clerks II. They follow somewhat similar formulas, but Clerks II worked much better for a few reasons. First off we already knew and loved the characters from Clerks and the story of two male best friends was much closer to Smith’s heart giving it a stronger sense of sincerity and resonance. Also, telling a story about two dude digging each other as buds is way less common than boy loves girl.

Like I said, the movie is hilarious and is quite sweet but it has the added bonus of being about making a porno. This adds freshness and fun to an otherwise formulaic film. The highlight of the movie has to be the scenes where longtime best friends, Zack and Miri are, along with some new found pals, shooting their flick. It captures the fun of doing something creative and collaborating with other people to make it happen. Quite simply, it may inspire you to do a little filming of your own. Perhaps not pornography, but I’m sure you get the point nonetheless. It accomplishes what Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind tried to do, and it tried really really hard whereas Make A Porno makes it look effortless. The ragtag group of people Zack and Miri scrounge together are a mixed bag. Each character seems interesting enough, and each actor portraying them seems on their game, but Smith seems only interested in exploring the title characters and Deleany, played by a never better Craig Robinson (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express). This is a shame and gives the move a much narrower feel than what may have been best. You’ll certainly notice this after a “three months later…” cut that just doesn’t feel right and doesn’t convey the scope that was seemingly intended.

One worry I had going in was that Seth Rogen’s overbearing personality would overshadow Kevin Smith’s as a director. Instead both their personalities intertwine in comedic harmony. This is a great pair. However, The show stealer is star on the rise Elizabeth Banks who plays funny well and plays real even better. She has a similar effect on the movie that Rosario Dawson did on Clerks II; and that’s no small compliment. As far as 2008 goes, Zack and Miri Make a Porno falls short of Forgetting Sarah Marshall but ranks ahead of Pineapple Express or Tropic Thunder. So overall, this isn’t a Kevin Smith classic, but it is a more than worthwhile comedy.