Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zack & Miri (and Kevin) Make a Disappointing Film

I was really looking forward to Zack & Miri Make a Porno. I like Kevin Smith. I like Seth Rogen. I like romantic comedies and this one had such an edgy fun premise.

But it kind of sucked.

I've been trying to figure out why it fell so flat for me. In the end, I think it boils down to weak writing, bad acting and too much reliance on gross-out or stereotype-reliant humor. Re the bad acting: the two leads were fine. (Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) but the actors in many of the minor parts were horrible and, even in fairly small rolls, detracted from the film. Some of the minor characters were embarrassingly bad stereotypes. (particularly the Brendan Routh and Justin Long cameos as a gay couple.)

Casting (early 1980's underage porn star) Traci Lords as a porno actress is kind of funny (and stunt casting Lords worked for John Waters when he did it in Serial Mom and Cry Baby... but we expect bad acting in a John Waters movie (even when it's Johnny Depp). And the stunt casting didn't work here. Besides, Traci Lords is getting a little long in the tooth and it's been too many years since her infamous years as a porn star for the casting joke to be funny.

But beyond the stiff acting, (no pun intended), I think it was the writing that was the real problem. I liked the premise of two long-time platonic friends only figuring out that they were in love when they try to film a porno staring themselves... But it just didn't work. The characters were already so awkward and nervous around each other that we knew what was going on and the sex scene ended up simply being a let down. Either it had to have been a way better sex scene... or there should have been less obvious foreshadowing and they should have started out trying to do porn-style sex more convincingly that turned into somehting else. As it was, it was sex that started out awkward and just got more awkward, except maybe that they had a little meaningful eye-contact. Perhaps it was realistic... but I didn't want realism, I wanted a nice, emotional sex scene... It was a huge turning point for the film. Or should have been.

Then, the "black moment" and resolution were total cliche. A misunderstanding that a short conversation would have solved, followed by the eventual conversation, but only after a forced separation of 3 months. Any beginner writer of romance knows that doesn't work. There was no conflict between these two people except a misunderstanding. Beginner stuff.

Sigh. You'd think Kevin Smith could do better than this. He has done better than this. Jersey Girl was a half-decent rom-com with some real conflict.

On the upside... I found Jason Mewes (aka "Jay" from Kevin Smith's early movies) pretty funny (and disturbingly attractive) in this film. Perhaps my standards are lowering in my old age.

1 comment:

L.A. Mitchell said...

Jason Mewes is a find. YUM.

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