Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

2008, R, 101 min. Directed by Kevin Smith. Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Traci Lords, Jason Mewes, Ricky Mabe, Craig Robinson, Katie Morgan, Jeff Anderson.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 31, 2008

Smith’s new film proves that even though you may be able to take the boy out of Jersey, there’s still no chance of sidetracking the filmmaker’s dominant id. Setting Zack and Miri Make a Porno in Pittsburgh, across the Jersey state line, has not diluted Smith’s distinctive comedic raunch in the least. The film’s title alone should make that clear. However, there is also a sweetness to Zack and Miri, which, when combined with the film’s perfect casting, makes this Smith’s strongest film since 1997’s Chasing Amy. A romantic comedy, the film is so faithful to the standards of the Hollywood form as to be almost conventional – but for its obvious porno and scatology. Though it’s the films of Judd Apatow (a fellow traveler in the realm of sweet raunch) that brought Rogen’s unique leading-man-manqué talents to Smith’s attention, in Rogen, Smith has also found a screen soulmate. Co-star Banks, too, is a veteran of the Apatow world, and her charming turn here as Miri, when combined with her current dramatic performance as Laura Bush in W., is certain to provide the wide-ranging actress her breakthrough moment. Smith combines these Apatow players (Robinson, as well, comes from that crew) with some of his own regulars (Mewes and Anderson) and some knowledgeable porn stars of today and yesteryear (Lords and Morgan) to create an ensemble that’s beautifully in tune with his aesthetic. Zack (Rogen) and Miri, best friends since high school, live together platonically in Pittsburgh, though the unpaid bills are stacking up and things are getting kind of drafty since the heat’s been turned off. At their high school reunion, an encounter with a pair of male porn actors (played hilariously by Superman Brandon Routh and Mac shill Justin Long – characters fully deserving a sequel of their own) provides Zack and Miri with an idea of a way to raise some cash: Make their own porn film. They figure their friendship is strong enough to withstand sexual contact for the sake of the rent, but in true romantic-comedy fashion, their onscreen carnality leads to offscreen epiphanies about the true nature of their love for each other. Awww. Meanwhile, in an unexpurgated Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland style, Zack and Miri draft a fun little team of makeshift filmmakers and actors to shoot their movie. This creation of community is part of the film’s overall warmth and bonhomie. Smith gives the appearance of wanting to provoke, but along with his smuttiness, he wears his heart on his sleeve. (See Screens feature "For Mature Audiences Only," Oct. 31, for an interview with Kevin Smith.)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Zack and Miri Make a Porno
For Mature Audiences Only
For Mature Audiences Only
How did Kevin Smith prep to make a movie about two kids making a porn? Years of research.

Marc Savlov, Oct. 31, 2008

More Kevin Smith
A Convenient Truth
A Convenient Truth
Kevin Smith on 'Clerks II'

Marc Savlov, July 21, 2006

On Any Sunday
On Any Sunday
Heybale raises the roof

Margaret Moser, June 24, 2005

More Kevin Smith
Fake Fast Food Restaurateur (and Filmmaker) Kevin Smith Welcomes Austin to Mooby's
Fake Fast Food Restaurateur (and Filmmaker) Kevin Smith Welcomes Austin to Mooby's
Silent Bob talks fan connection, veganism, and Mooby's origins

Kevin Curtin, May 11, 2021

Hey Southwest, It's 'Silent Bob,' Not 'Too Fat to Fly Bob'
Hey Southwest, It's 'Silent Bob,' Not 'Too Fat to Fly Bob'
Southwest Airlines kicks director Kevin Smith off flight for being oversized

Marc Savlov, Feb. 15, 2010

More Kevin Smith Films
Clerks III
Deservedly self-indulgent return to the Quick Stop where Kevin Smith began

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 9, 2022

Yoga Hosers
Two teenagers battle an army of small sausages

Josh Kupecki, Sept. 2, 2016

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
All That Breathes
The struggle by three men to save the endangered black kite

March 31, 2023

SXSW Film Review: <i>Joy Ride</i>
Film Review: Joy Ride
Groundbreaking comedy doesn't break the raunchy mold

March 19, 2023


Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Traci Lords, Jason Mewes, Ricky Mabe, Craig Robinson, Katie Morgan, Jeff Anderson

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle