Fornication & fiscal salvation

Zack and Miri take the unconvential route to curbing student debt in a less than dignified­—but hilarious—way

Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks star in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, a surprisingly typical film-within-a-film that connects with the funnybone regardless of its revealing ending.
Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks star in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, a surprisingly typical film-within-a-film that connects with the funnybone regardless of its revealing ending.
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Man, are pornos ever great! What other genre combines witty and succinct satire of pop-culture classics such as Star Wars, Back to the Future and Mrs. Doubtfire, scintillating dialogue that would leave even the much-lauded script writers of Teletubbies agape with wonder and a score best described as a symphony of moist fleshmeat that has probably raised Beethoven from the dead on numerous occasions?

Not to mention the fact that porn boasts a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to public appeal. Can da Vinci or Vivaldi say that their work is downloaded, distributed and viewed by millions and millions of culturally-minded savants of all ages every single day? Do 14-year-olds sneak hack renditions of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” into their sock drawer for some midnight “critical analysis” once mom and dad have gone to bed? I doubt it. Evidently, porn is indeed a highbrow art capable of crossing swords with the canon of Western art.

Following in the footsteps of this genre’s great artistes, Zack and Miri (Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks), the title characters of the film Zack and Miri Make a Porno set out to—surprise, surprise—make a porno, seeking not only to add to the beret-worthy pornographic discourse but, and perhaps more consciously, to pocket some cold, and—ahem—hard cash.

In the face of debt, Zack and Miri wisely decide that porn is their only hope of salvation from both the loan shark and the pitying stares of their successful peers. And really, what inspirational creator of art hasn’t picked up the quill, brush or handy cam to commune even more fervently with the Muse in times of great financial and personal hardship?

Tapping into the cultural zeitgeist, Zack and Miri’s artistic project seems all-systems-go for a juicy flick. They enlist the unique talents and services of a couple of strippers, co-workers and boy-toy wonders to create the stirring epic Star Whores. But when the fates ordain that the artistic team’s “soundstage” (read: dirty sty of a warehouse) is to be demolished by a gaggle of philistine backhoes, the more modest endeavour, Swallow My Cockaccino, steams up a classic coffee shop fantasy sequence on a budget of approximately 35 cents.

Indeed, Swallow my Cockaccino’s brain parents also seem cut out for the often difficult—though probably devilishly rewarding—lifestyle as porn producers. Zack and Miri, lifetime friends sans benefits, who themselves have a sexy “cream delivery” scene together, swear all-too profusely that they will keep their porn relationship strictly professional. They repeat ad nauseum that in no way will they allow their platonic existence to be compromised by a bit of raunchy intercourse filmed and packaged for furtive distribution to the legions of eagerly awaiting newly-pubescent.

I really can’t imagine how such a rock-solid friendship could ever be complicated by something as insignificant as sex. But it appears that making porn is all fun, games and zeitgeist until people start falling in love—ughhh. Leave it to cupid to forestall the artistic development of a good X-rated reel. He just kills the mood—and all erections in sight—dead with that little bow and arrow of his.

Unfortunately, this U-turn Zack and Miri make from hilarious, off-colour, screwball comedy into the realm of sappy doe-eyed romance is akin to the laws of gravity acting upon a kitten hurled into Niagara Falls while wearing a lead sweater-set: predictable yet anger-inducing and stomach-turning. Even worse is the awful Danny Tanner moment towards the end of the flick when Lester (Jason Mewes), Zack’s co-worker and Swallow My Cockaccino’s producer (read: adjudicator of breasts), spews some space junk about how thanks to Zack and Miri, he and the cast were inspired by the two friends’ love and experienced transcendent beauty and other such psycho-babble-hogwash because of the synergetic creation of the porno. Insert vomiting here. At least Danny Tanner had a laugh-track when his awkward teachable-moment ended; Lester’s words—far from convincing—are met only with crickets and tumbleweeds.

Don’t let this jaded analysis of the last quarter of the movie deter you. Zack and Miri Make a Porno, like what we’ve come to expect from Seth Rogen, is bodily-function-inducing in its hilarity and capitalizes on less-than-dignified episodes that happen to the best of us, such as propositioning gay men, washing our hair with toilet water and failing abysmally at a lousy job in the service industry. That said, it must indeed be confusing when, in the words of Zack, you “set out to fuck and end up making love.” It’s arguably more confusing being the voyeur who has to watch.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno is playing at the Capitol 7 Theatres (223 Princess Street).

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