Zack and Miri make a porno: sit com, with nudity

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Title: Zack and Miri make a porno
Director: Kevin Smith
Language: English
Year: 2008
Critical Reception: Panned by most major critics, with a metacritic rating of 56.
Psych Index: Intimate
In Brief: At times, Zack and Miri seemed to bathe in gold tint, the same one that encapsulated sitcoms and other mainstream feel-good shows on your smaller tube. It also had the same quirky sheen of other feel-good indie flicks over the past few years. The stage was an innocent, vanilla coffee shop. The cast was, save for all the nudity, Friends-ish. Perhaps this was its one clever move, cinematically, making a case for the notion of porn making its presence well known in the mainstream culture.

Comment (SPOILERS ALERT):
Let us fuck. No? Okay now that I’ve used up the one effective and funny catch phrase from Zack and Miri Make A Porno (Smith, 2008), let’s just talk about sex. After all, this was what the film set out to do – to state a case for meaningful sex, in the age of seemingly frivolous humpings, and have it set against an industry made exclusively to entertain sex acts and the idea thereof.

Zack Brown (Seth Rogen), in trying to convince Miri Linky (Elizabeth Banks) that porn was their best option available for some quick cash, claimed that pornography was already present in the mainstream culture. In some ways, its creator waged the success of the film on this notion. To this end, yes, Mr. Smith, porno has gone mainstream. Or, at least as mainstream as it could be. I knew it was so when bottomless parties were the rage in a seemingly innocuous buddy film, Harold and Kumar part deux. Of course, there was also that well circulated sex tape that made Paris Hilton the queen of the tabloid and other news media alike. Point well taken – and demonstrated within the film. At times, Zack and Miri seemed to bathe in gold tint, the same one that encapsulated sitcoms and other mainstream feel-good shows on your smaller tube. It also had the same quirky sheen of other feel-good indie flicks over the past few years. The stage was an innocent, vanilla coffee shop. The cast was, save for all the nudity, Friends-ish. Perhaps this was its one clever move, cinematically, making a case for the notion of porn making its presence well known in the mainstream culture.

The film also featured the same scenario we have seen from the recent Judd Apatow films: ordinary, if not slightly dowdy, guys beating their heart on their sleeves, and in the procress, melt some awestruck pretty girl’s heart (why must the supposed ‘girl next door’ be always so clearly not dowdy?). Clearly, it was meant for the people who went because the title had “porno” in it, as well as people who would not admit to going to see the film for the same reason. It was also made for Kevin Smith fans (which, apparently, included the Weinstein Bros.?), as it featured excessive geeky talk and everything. Oh yes, there was a Star Wars spoof.

But, was there something else to the film? Something about sex changing everything? On this front, the film presented a half-hearted argument at best. The unfortunate part about the quirky, loveable cast was the way it was pit against the humanity of its two main characters. It was like pitching cardboard particles against real pine. It’s not much of an argument if the side of meaningful sex got some warm body to enact it, and in the other corner, cartoonish sex machines being over-the-top silly, or dumb, or sometimes both.

In a way, the porn industry was used in the film the same way Zack and Miri envisioned it: a fantasy dreaming of real human connections. As far as fantasy goes, none of these sideshow characters was given a fair chance – they were barely shown to be human beings, just jokes and dicks. Sex is, of course, meaningless if there’s no human involved. To be fair, the film was not about the porn industry, so one should not expect a fair exploration of the individuals involved. You could argue that Zack and Miri were part of the show, so perhaps they could represent some parts of it. The problem was, they stopped when the going got real. I suppose this could be the portrait of the modern amateurs, but it still did not make a convincing case for sex chaning everything, beyond the obvious “well, duh, of course sex could change existing relationships! Surprise!” Casual, meaningless sex could still exist between breathing human beings. What was this movie about again? Oh, right, sweet human relationships. With nudity. And dangling balls, yes. But you can still take your platonic buddy-or-not friend to it. It won’t change anything, promise.

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