Shrek is a bit tired of family life and the routine and while he loves his family he needs a bit of a break. Enter Rumpelstiltskin, after a failed attempt to swindle Far, Far, Away from Fiona’s parents around the time Shrek saved her from her tower. Stiltskin just so happens to roll up on an angry Shrek and offers him a day in the life of the good ole days in return from one day in Shrek’s childhood. Shrek is whisked away through space and time and ends up in a world where he never existed and Stiltskin is in charge of Far, Far, Away; as Shrek wasn’t born and in turn could never save Fiona.
Following a seemingly accidental suicide attempt, a group of friends go back to their old vacation stomping grounds to blow off some steam and reunite after growing far apart into their dull lives. The town and ski lodge is not what it used to be and after a call in to get their hot tub fixed, a mysterious sparkling new one is installed. Drunken debauchery begins between the three friends and one their twenty something nephews and after spilling some illegal Russian energy drink on the tubs controls the group is sent back in time to 1986, entering the bodies of their teenage selves that were visiting for Winterfest 86’ that year. The group then enters into a Back to the Future type plot that has them trying to recreate the night’s events at the risk of derailing their lives and possibly erasing the nephew’s existence.
Kevin Smith’s latest is a hilarious, raunchy, and sweet look at two friends’ platonic relationship that probably was meant to be more but never was.
Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have been friends from the first grade, they have never been romantically involved emotionally, accidentally, or really ever thought about it, and they are now roommates in a place with stacking up bills and no sign of an income to help pay them off any sooner rather than later. Zack works and Bean and Gone, a local Starbucks competitor in Pittsburgh and he spends his days hanging out with his friend Delaney (Craig Robinson) and avoiding getting in trouble with his store manager. Miri’s work situation isn’t pulling down much cash either, and the two are left with defunct computers, buying pointless items, while their bills go further and further past due. The night before Thanksgiving, the two have their 10 year high school reunion and Zack is practically dragged there by Miri who is looking to score with her high school crush Bobby Long (Brandon Routh). Once Miri finds her man she leaves Zack on his own who between trying to score with married girls from his past and drinking runs into a guest of one of his classmates, Brandon (Justin Long) and the two bond over discussions of Brandon’s profession; gay porn. After the reunion, the last of the Zack and Miri’s utilities are shut off and they are left with a hobo style heating system and a desperate desire to make money, when Zack comes up with the idea of making a porno based off their recent “viral” success. Miri is quickly talked into the deal, as is Delaney to produce with his plasma TV money, and after a couple of quick casting sessions and finding someone and somewhere to shoot it, Zack and Miri are ready to produce their Porno.
I have explained quite a lot so far, but have spoiled little, and will go no further with plot, but the chemistry of these characters is fantastic though. Smith has always been great at getting his cast to bounce off each other with ease and Z&M is no different. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks bounce off each other with ease and the banter can go from dirty to sweet in a second. Craig Robinson provides many of the best lines in the film and he and Rogen have as equally as good a chemistry as he does with Banks. Jason Mewes also owns his role as the lead porn actor in the film; he isn’t a professional just more then capable with his equipment than most. Mewes is hilarious and it’s nice to see him doing something besides Jay in a Kevin Smith film, here is to him doing more original work in his friend’s future work. Both of the real life porn stars that make appearances in the film do an excellent job as well, with Katie Morgan bringing plenty of sweet and bubbly energy to her character of Stacey while hamming it up for the camera when she does the porn work in the film. She and Mewes do the majority of the sex work in the film and they make it funny and silly, while remaining somewhat authentic, nailing what Smith was going for I imagine.
The creativity Smith gets out of his porn ideas is great as well, the number of dirty jokes he comes up with around the theme of the film is pretty impressive. I also how he kind of makes an homage to the making of clerks with the shooting of the in film porno, you will know what I mean when you see it, and the coda video at the end of the film is well thought out and clever as well. Smith has crafted his most well rounded film yet with Zack and Miri but, I am not read to anoint it as his best, though after repeat viewings we can reassess that element.
Now, the elephant in the room, how raunchy is this movie? It is pretty fucking filthy, so much so, I can’t believe that Smith got them to talk this thing down, he must be one persuasive man. Testicles, breasts, penis, vagina, and much, much more; this film has it all. And I can’t even mention the worst/funniest thing in the film as it is one of the best laughs in the film and of the year; disgustingly hilarious. The movie is so raunchy that the sweet emotional scenes become jarring because you’re so used to the profane and vulgar, but funny, material that fills a substantial amount of the film. Though, the movie does have its serious and sweet moments, and can be rather effective, even if they seem a bit out of place in this crazy flick.
I have already touched on the acting a bit but everyone in the film is working at top form. Banks’ Miri is both kind of a self proclaimed slut but some how Banks makes her sweet and adorable at times when she isn’t acting kind of dirty. Rogen does stray to far from the type he has been playing as of late, but that is ok because he is hilarious as usual. Jeff Anderson is at the center of the best gag in the movie and he just nails that while injecting plenty of good one liner’s throughout the picture. I can’t say anymore about Craig Robinson who we need to have more in movies, as he never fails to make me laugh. Justin Long steals every scene he is in, it is a shame there are only a few and Brandon Routh captures his character perfectly. Mewes is golden throughout this flick and it makes you wish he had even more work in the picture as he is a bit in the background much of the time, but he makes the most of every scene he is in. Also, Smith shows restraint by not putting himself or any of his regulars in front of the camera, and while I like those guys, it’s nice to see him moving out of the Jersey Chronicles and all that comes with it for something fresh and original with Zack and Miri here.
In the end, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is easily one of the Top 3 comedies of the year right now. I don’t know if it is quite as good as Forgetting Sarah Marshall right now as Z&M pacing falls out of whack from time to time and can’t touch Sarah Marshall’s perfect relationship/comedy balance, but there is a lot of room for this one to grow in repeat viewings. If you are a Kevin Smith or Seth Rogen fan, this one is a no brainer. A bunch of the Apatow camp guys were inspired by Kevin Smith and Clerks years ago and it’s great to see Smith come out and show that he is more than capable of creating a product as good as what those guys have been doing as of late. Though, the faint of heart, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but at least you gave it a chance.
Seth Rogen and James Franco star in a stoner/buddy/action/comedy that is usually fairly humorous, but drags at the end and maybe over stayed its welcome a bit too long.
Dale (Seth Rogen) is a process server, handing out subpoenas all day while intermittently getting high between stop to stop. Saul (James Franco) is Dale’s dealer of two months who spends his day watching two TV’s and getting high himself. After a recent stop to Saul’s, in which he and Dale had a bit of a bonding experience over his exclusive rights to the very good Pineapple Express weed, Dale is about to serve Ted Jones (Gary Cole) when he witness him murder and Asian man with the assistance of female cop Carol (Rosie Perez). Dale attempts to flee the scene, making a scene himself ramming into the cars around him, tossing his joint out the window and rushing to Saul’s for help. Jones finds the joint and is able to detect that it is Pineapple Express, hence sending his goons to Saul’s to figure out what just happened and to shut up who ever saw him. The odd couple gets bent out of shape on paranoia and flees into the woods as the try and figure out how they can track them with their ridiculous philosophies. [Read more...]