Zack and Miri Make a Porno

If there is such a thing as a stroke flick for your funnybone, then Zack and Miri is it. Writer-director Kevin Smith is back on comedy terra firma, after Jersey Girl drowned in goo and Clerks II defined backsliding. For those who wonder what happened to the Smith of the first Clerks and Chasing Amy, here's your answer.

Seth Rogen, on loan from the Judd Apatow hit factory, is Zack, the scruffy chubmeister slacking his life away as a barista at Bean-N-Gone in a corner of Pittsburgh. Zack shares a funky dump of an apartment with his best friend, Miri (Elizabeth Banks trying futilely not to look like a blond goddess). These platonic BFFs don't have sex, except for money.

Let me explain: Zack and Miri can't pay the rent. At their high school reunion, Miri runs into her football-hero crush, played by Superman Brandon Routh. Miri hits on him like a bitch in heat, which is embarrassing because the laddie boy is not only gay but a mainstay of homo hardcore with his lover, hilariously played by Mac guy Justin Long. That's when the idea hits: Zack and Miri can pay the rent by making their own cheapie Internet porno. Let the laughs begin.

That they do. Rogen and Banks, both terrific, bring out the sweet and spicy best in each other. This is a good thing, since we know where their relationship is heading from the get-go. The tastiest in tasteless yuks kick in when Zack and Miri get down and dirty with a little help from their friends. Craig Robinson, of The Office, steals every scene he's in as Zack's co-worker-turned-producer of Star Whores, with R2-Teabag, Hung Solo, Darth Vibrator and Miri as Princess Lay-her (given Banks' role in W., she could have called herself Laura Bush). A change of location to the coffee shop necessitates a title change to Swallow My Cock-ucinno. You get the point. In Smith's playful hands, amateur porn isn't hot, it's hysterical. Smith doesn't act in this one. But Jason Mewes, who plays Jay to Smith's Silent Bob in a host of Smith films, gets to whip out his dick as Lester, a chunk of human Viagra. Mewes is a hoot playing scenes with two bona fide porn queens: Traci Lords, who blows bubbles out of her vagina, and Katie Morgan, who...oh, stop me now! Yes, you see boobs! Yes, you see pubes! And, yes, you (almost) see Zack and Miri have sex on camera. But that's when Smith turns mushy and tries to spin smut into sugar. That he (almost) does is a tribute to the talents involved. Naughty and nice is a killer-hard combo to pull off. Stick with Rogen and Banks. They rock it.

From The Archives Issue 125: January 4, 1973