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Friday, October 31, 2008

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

I have a friend who has spent decades talking to me about synchronicity. She insists everything in life is connected in some way, like a big spider web, each strand intricately woven into a delicate pattern that somehow makes a grand design. Or, as she spelled it out for some numbskull on my level, synchronicity is what psychotherapy pioneer Carl Jung called “meaning coincidences,” like talking about the Olsen twins then picking up a rock and finding one stuck to the bottom. Personally, I don’t see that as particularly coincidental. I wouldn’t expect to find them anywhere else, except maybe in a crackhouse or wandering through Amy Winehouse’s hair. So blah, blah, blah, she goes on and on telling me that she thinks the cosmos “gives and takes” like the tides ebb and flow. Okay, so I’ve humored her just like you would too. After all, she does have access to sharp objects and I’m not sure how far she’s willing to “ebb” to make my blood “flow” if I piss her off. For nearly thirty years, I’ve pretended to listen intently while she explains how her every action in life has resulted in something else happening that has intersected or complemented what was happening in her world. For instance, she claims it was because she took a certain class in college at a certain time that she is responsible for my first marriage because if she hadn’t been sitting in a certain seat next to a certain dumbass and ended up talking to him, then introduced him to me, he and I might never have married. That, to me, is not an example of synchronicity but of singular tragedy, however I get her point.

One weird note of synchronicity I did notice this week was that Gerard Damiano died just as Zack
and Miri Make a Porno opened. I’m sure there are some of you out there who are going to go Gerard Who? Well hang on to your delicate hand washables; I’m going to tell you. Gerry was the writer and director of the first mainstream XXX-rated movie to ever be talked about in polite society, Deep Throat. Way back in the Stone(d) Age, 1972, Gerry came up with an idea so bizarre that what were usually just backroom “dirty movies” were turned upside down when he introduced something smut had been lacking since men started making porn ~ a full-on plot.

How ironic that thirty six years later, when porn had gone from something that scandalized the world and caused police to raid theaters and where entire cities made “Christian” pledges to never allow movies like Deep Throat to be shown in their towns, we have come to a point where movies just as “dirty” are regularly beamed via cable services most people have into their own homes, and those porno theaters have all but disappeared since the invention of the Betamax videotape player. And, yes, I know we’ve advanced beyond the Betamax, thank you very much. I’m just sayin’, it was when the Beta that started guys staying home to get a grip on themselves instead of going the raincoat route in some dingy theater with sticky floors. Or so I’m told. I wouldn’t personally know about those sorts of places, don’tcha know.

So now, almost as an uncanny tribute to the Oracle of Oral himself, quirky writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks II) presents
Zack and Miri Make a Porno, a delicious romantic comedy about how poverty, friendship, and desperation can create the perfect formula for finding true love amongst the anal sex scenes and bad acting that are the staples of the porn industry. Seriously.

The tale focuses on roommates Zack (Seth Rogan; Pineapple Express) and Miri (Elizabeth
Banks; W.), who have been BFFs since middle school, but have remained the kind of best friends who are friends without benefits. It’s only when they can no longer pay their rent or utility bills that they reach a point of such sheer desperation that they are open to the idea of doing exactly what the title suggests. Of course, it’s not as if they just suddenly get this brilliant “Hey! Let’s get naked with a camera!” moment. Instead, it comes as the result of just one more thing gone wrong for Miri after the water and lights go out while she is in the shower readying for her and Zack’s tenth high school reunion. For a decade she has harbored resentment over the fact that hunky football star Bobby Long (Brandon Routh; Superman Returns) took her surname, Linky, and dubbed her “Stinky Linky”, a nickname that followed her for her entire high school life. Now she plans to hunt down Bobby and seduce him, bring him home, and have sex with him all night long as revenge. Okay, so it’s doesn’t exactly sound like the best plan to make him suffer, but this cruel payback never gets off the ground anyway since Bobby has brought a date to the Reunion ~ his boyfriend Brandon (Justin Long; Just Add Water). The interesting thing about Brandon is that he is an adult film star, in “all male productions” as he describes them, and, no, as he needs to further clarify to slow-witted Zack, “Not like Glengarry Glenn Ross.” Okay, so herein lies the germination of Zack’s plan and where off the movie really takes off. It is also a really sneaky place for Smith to get his personal jollies by including in the scene a bit in which the American icon Superman (Routh) swaps spit with another man just for the sh*ts and giggles of it all. Kevin, Kevin, Kevin.

Soon our title couple is enlisting pals and auditioning “actors” for what becomes a typically hilarious and over-the-top Kevin Smith comedy that those familiar with Smith’s sense of humor will recognize immediately. There’s raunch galore, but it is actually funny enough that even though you may feel embarrassed about what’s going on you can’t help but shrug that feeling of discomfort off because the absurdity of the situations Zack and Miri find themselves in is too silly to take seriously. Helping stir up this craziness is the tall half of Smith film staples “Jay and Silent Bob”, Jason Mewes (Clerks II), this time playing an enthusiastic “actor” with an impressive ‘résumé’ always at the ready. Assisting him with his ‘résumé’ are real-life porn star Katie Morgan (That Voodoo That You Do) as succulent Stacey, a constipated connoisseur of back-door bumping, and former porn queen Traci Lords (Your Name Here) as Bubbles, whose name describes a unique trick she can perform with an orifice other than her mouth that can’t easily be put into words here.

Believe it or not, in the middle of all the pretty explicit sex scenes and the foulest language this side of a navy ship,
Zack and Miri Make a Porno is actually a fairly straightforward romance as the couple discovers how much they have not appreciated or allowed themselves to feel about the other. Speed bumps appear in the guise of gi-normous breasticles here and again, but these kids can tell the difference between having sex and making love, even if they have to see the evidence onscreen first to figure it out.

I think you’ll enjoy what you see onscreen too with
Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Despite the titular title, the film really is a whole lot more than just the porno-making itself, and there are some of the most comical moments you’ll see in a movie this year, the type of things you’ll be busting at the seams to tell your friends about. I’d tell you, but I don’t want to spoil your fun.

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