Zack And Miri Make A Porno Sends Hardcore Kevin Smith Fans To "Heaven"Fans of Kevin Smith will be happy to hear that the king of potty-mouthed indie schlubs is back with a new film and it isn't terrible. The film, Zack And Miri Make A Porno, follows a simple plot: Two friends, Zack (Seth Rogan) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks), make a porn film to pay some bills but discover they love each other along the way. It's R-rated comedy mixed with classic BFF rom-com and sprinkled with group-of-misfits-pull-off-the-unbelievable trope often found in late-'90s camp movies. While the mixing of genres may ruffle the feathers of a few prudish critics who may not agree with Smith's brand of humor, all of them can agree that this film is a step up from Jersey Girl. Check out the reviews after the jump.Time:
In Zack and Miri, Smith flounders for a while in situations and gags that are frankly sub-Smithian. It's as if Apatow has swiped his mojo and Smith can't get it back.
Salon:
And maybe that points to the chief problem with "Zack and Miri": The jokes are forced, almost mechanical, in their crudeness. They're so carefully placed that they feel a little precious rather than spontaneous, which ends up defying that impulsive, animal thing inside us, whatever it is, that gets us to respond to crude humor in the first place. That's not a problem specific to "Zack and Miri Make a Porno." More and more comedies are offering crude humor as an end in itself, instead of a means to an end. You can almost imagine the writers of these movies, in the midst of struggling to make a line work, just tossing in some graphic or scatological detail as a stopgap. I don't think that's Smith's way of working, but as I watched "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," I found potty-mouth fatigue setting in pretty quickly.
The Los Angeles Times:
Smith will, unfortunately, be going to hell for the inclusion of one outlandishly grotesque sight gag, one the movie (any movie) would've been better off without. Then again, the filmmaker's entire career has mined the fun, the possibilities and the risks of going too far. His is an arrested-adolescent sensibility, like that of many who have come along in his wake, notably Judd Apatow and his various guy-centric associates. But Smith can write and, despite his subject and the free-floating, genial skeeziness, "Zack and Miri" has a bright, chipper look to it, thanks to cinematographer Dave Klein, a frequent Smith colleague. Wintertime in Pittsburgh never looked so good.
USA Today:
Zack and Miri leaves us wondering whether it's supposed to be mostly a touching love story or a crude comic romp. Certainly there's room for sweetness amid bawdy humor, but the fusion should be somewhat original, or at least believable. In trying to meld the two, it doesn't succeed at either. It may be too sickly-sweet for audiences drawn to the idea of a ribald comedy and too explicit and foul-mouthed for those who prefer their love stories to be romantic.
Wired:
Zack and Miri is not a beautiful movie, smeared as it is with outdoor shots of icy streets and slush-covered suburbs. But it is fun movie to watch (brace yourself for the gross-out money shot that had audience members giggling uncontrollably). More substantial than Smith's previous efforts, Zack and Miri sticks to a breezy pace, when things turn from goofy sleaze to slightly standard romance. Wisely, Smith keeps the heartwarming part short and sweet.
Washington Post:
And, even though they've seen this formulaic, crude comedy before, they'll still probably sit through it, just as millions of filmgoers will this weekend. Why? Because, as tasteless as it often is, it's still funny. Which is the only test that matters.
The New York Times:
So “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” in spite of its sometimes tiresome, sometimes amusing lewdness, follows a gee-whiz romantic-comedy formula that would not be out of place on the Disney Channel. Two best friends who have always been in love with each other discover that ... they have always been in love with each other. Granted, this revelation occurs while they are having sex in front of a camera, but it is so sweet and predictable that these potentially tawdry circumstances hardly matter.
Slate:
The movie's central joke—that loving, intimate sex, of the kind Zack and Miri will eventually have on camera, makes for lousy pornography—is both clever and affecting. And the scene in which the two friends finally get it on is one of the few aesthetically successful moments, as Smith uses two different soundtracks to contrast the lovers' ecstasy with their onlookers' boredom. But Zack and Miri keeps throwing away the opportunity to be more than a string of undifferentiated puerile gags. The moment these characters start discussing feelings, their dialogue turns stiff: Would anyone from Zack and Miri's uninhibited Generation Y circle be caught dead using the boomer euphemism "making love"?
Entertainment Weekly:
The simplistic message, however, is one any church pastor might give: Sex isn’t sexy without love, commitment, and fidelity. The established auteur who made Clerks (un and deux), Mallrats, and Chasing Amy may now be a 38-year-old husband and father who heads a successful production company, but he's still got cheap advice for schlumpy twentysomething guys like Zack. (Zack's notion of getting lucky at the reunion, FYI, is receiving a quicky handjob from a bitter, married classmate who's enraged because her husband is flirting across the crowded room.) The advice: Find someone as luscious and, amazingly, available as Banks' Miri, and the electricity will magically switch on by itself. Well, duh. Of course Zack and Miri are meant for each other — why else cast that huggable Fozzie Bear Rogen or the delectable Banks, who, let's face it, looks like the Girl Least Likely to End Up a Loser? When Zack and Miri do finally get it on — an intimate scene that even bad cinematography can’t ruin — their lovemaking, though strategically covered up, is the one naked moment of emotion (and yes, eroticism) in this otherwise coarse movie's whole tired, simulated premise. And still, Smith throws in a limp third act before the dunderheads can admit their obvious lurrrve.
The A.V. Club:
A lot about Kevin Smith has rubbed people the wrong way over the years, from his self-aggrandizing efforts to build his "View Askewniverse" to his vision of a world where regardless of gender, race, religion, or social status, everyone's adept at raunchy sex talk. Mainly, Smith's greatest sin has been writing and directing a series of indifferently shot, choppily edited comedies in which all the dialogue—funny though it often is—sounds like one long monologue split between an assortment of flat, cartoony characters. Nevertheless, Smith is clearly a bright guy with a good sense of humor—even about his own failings—so it's nice to be able to break from the ritual of Smith-bashing for a change and say that his latest movie, Zack And Miri Make A Porno, is honestly enjoyable.
Rolling Stone:
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.
Chicago Sun-Times:
And of course, awwww, Zack and Miri admit they've been in love along, and achieve something you never see in a porn film, lovemaking with barely visible sex and very genuine romance. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks make a lovable couple; she's pretty and goes one-for-one on the bleep language, and Rogen, how can I say this, is growing on me, the big lug.
Premiere:
But pornos are like sausages — if you want to keep enjoying them, you don't really want to see them put together. If you're a scrappy and somewhat clueless outsider, the harsh realities of the jizz biz will fwap you in the face pretty quickly — and we're not just talking about the romantic confusion of screwing your best friend for money on camera. So in the spirit of porno, sausages, and ruining your lunch, I couldn't resist the urge to dissect some pieces of Zack and Miri's Fantasy Porno World.
Ain't It Cool News:
It seems a bit played out to talk about how Smith seems to borrowing from the Apatow way of doing and casting films, since Apatow probably borrowed a thing or three from Smith's brand of humor and way of generating material. If anything, ZACK AND MIRI is a tribute to how much these actors appreciate the ground that Smith broke as a writer and maker of low-budget comedies, and I hope Smith continues making films this complete and deep feeling. In truth, only Kevin Smith could have made the most romantic film of his career and still fill it with some of the foulest and most over-sexed language and situations in movie history. It's actually the perfect blend of every tool that Smith has in his arsenal, used to tell a sweet love story set in the world of amateur porn. I think I'm in heaven.

'Zack And Miri Make A Porno' opens today in wide release.