87. Zack and Miri Make a Porno

            ★★☆☆

Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a not-Judd Apatow movie very much trying to be a Judd Apatow movie. It feels simultaneously incomplete and overloaded, like a screenwriter was beating away at it until someone knocked on his door midway and he had to finish early.

The movie focuses on, you guessed it, Zack and Miri, two high school friends in their late twenties who work as baristas in small town Pennsylvania. They also don’t have much money, and the film makes sure to remind us of this every two minutes or so. When they go to their 10-year high school reunion, Zack and Miri meet a porno actor and get the idea to make their own porno to bring in extra cash.

It took me maybe 1-2 minutes to type that paragraph, but it takes (at least what feels like) 20-30 minutes to actually get to that point in the movie. Everything until then is just a collection of unnecessary “let’s show how poor they are” scenes. And everything after that point is a collection of uninspired sex jokes, some boobs, some balls, and some shit. All of the actors are pretty charming, most notably Elizabeth Banks, while Seth Rogen and Craig Robinson essentially play themselves. Nothing wrong with that, but we wish there was a better story where Seth could be Seth and Craig could be Craig.

The movie is directed by Kevin Smith, which is a small shocker because it doesn’t feel like a Kevin Smith movie at all (except for its inclusion of Jeff Anderson of Clerks fame, and even his appearance feels out of place). It’s like Smith is simultaneously trying something more commercial and something more out-of-the-box while not quite hitting the mark for either. Maybe it’s because it feels like the movie doesn’t actually start until halfway through and that none of the characters are interesting to that point either. And maybe it’s because Rogen, Robinson and Banks, while each likable in their own right, don’t necessarily mesh well together.

But hey, you don’t watch porn for the story and you probably won’t for Zack and Miri Make a Porno either. It’s good for a few laughs, but unless you’re a die-hard Kevin Smith fan or just a 13-year-old boy who knows the password to unlock the Netflix parental controls, there won’t be much cinematic enjoyment coming your way.

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