Until Judd Apatow came along with comedies like “Superbad” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” New Jersey’s Kevin Smith was the reigning king of raunch.
I, for one, was delighted by the anarchic antics of “Clerks I” and I still hold up “Chasing Amy” as one of best, smartest and most sensitive comedies of the ’90s. Yes, Smith pushed the envelope and he could offend even liberal-minded viewers. But he had something to say about contemporary relationships, and at the core of his works, you sensed a sweetness, even a moral vision.
I am sorry to observe that even though he is more popular now than in his seminal days, Smith has not added anything new or interesting to his mounting resume of irreverent comedies.
Take his newest, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” an enticing title to be sure, and destined to lure in fans out for a night deliciously infused with profane, edgy, in-your-face blastoffs. It’s no surprise that Smith’s characters launch F-bombs with the rapidity a rocketeer on speed.
’Zack and Miri Make a Porno’
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Kevin Smith
STARRING Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Mewes, Craig Robinson, Traci Lords, Brandon Routh and Justin Long
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
You have forays into the caverns of anal sex, not to mention gratuitous explosions guaranteed to elicit moans and howls from audiences ready and perhaps eager to soak up combinations of scatological profanity that might make a hardened combat veteran blush.
Free to offend
You can almost hear Smith proclaiming from his mountaintop in Jersey, “You gave me the freedom, now watch me run with it.” So we give him his freedom to offend and to take scatology to its limits. But with that comes an inherent obligation to entertain in an original fashion. If you want to yell obscenities in a crowded elevator, go for it. But let’s make the ride up and down fun.
“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” is not all that much fun.
Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have been living together as friends for almost a decade. No romance and no sex. Just friends trying to eke out a living — better on two salaries than on one. Times get tougher, and just as the heat and electricity vanish, hey, here’s an idea. With a little help from their friends, they decide to make a “porno” they title “Star Whores.”
No need to provide more details other than to note the appearances of Smith regular Jason Mewes and “Superman” star Brandon Routh, who plays the class stud who shows up at the high school reunion with his gay lover, portrayed, in a hilarious send-up, by Justin Long.
Porn star Traci Lords joins the cast in a movie produced by Zack and Miri’s pal, portrayed by Craig Robinson.
You wait for Smith, the Catholic boy to show up, and be obliges with a message: Sex without love just does not cut it, and exemplifying this ersatz moral vision are our title characters. Porno is not so hot after all; yet, as he preaches this message, Smith caters to the audience hot for pornos.
Smith wants it both ways. He’s out to celebrate old-fashioned romantic love, but he cannot abandon his tawdry celebration of raunch. I’ll give him this: For all its outwardly offensive upchucks of adolescent hilarity, it’s pretty harmless. But it is also mind-numbing and oddly dull.
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Categories: Life and Arts