DVD Review: “Zack and Miri” makes me laugh

Leave it to Kevin Smith to make an utterly profane sex comedy about amateur porn and lace it with a sweet love story. But that’s a curse as well as a blessing for Zack and Miri Make a Porno, since the profane sex comedy part is so much better than the love story, which feels underwritten and implausible yet somehow quite predictable.

I mean, really, did anyone who saw this flick not instantly conclude that bickering platonic roomies Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) wouldn’t wind up declaring their devotion as if they were Jack and Rose in Titanic? That’s the inevitable part. But at least getting there is a wild and often amusingly warped ride.

On that ride’s downside, the plot’s “Make a Porno” thrust (the broke male-female buddies are desperate for dough)  feels absurdly anachronistic, since nowadays a zillion people are making their own porn and uploading it to the Internet. What’s so special about a lame sex spoof which starts out as a Star Wars parody (Kevin, get a life) and winds up being a coffee shop orgy? (When your first set burns down, you make do with what you’ve got.)

But Rogen is his usual delightfully deadpan everyman, whose acerbic bluntness is so open-faced and honest — and self-effacement so non-threatening —  that he gets away with saying almost anything. And writer-director Smith gives him plenty of rude things to say. Though Banks is a gamer, her role is underdeveloped (Smith still hasn’t nailed writing for women), but the spry supporting cast has some show-stealers, including porn vet Traci Lords in the movie-within-the-movie’s cast.

No, the film-proper isn’t really porn — it’s R-rated, even on DVD, which tells you something. Zack and Miri isn’t about sex. It’s about laughs. If it were about sex, it would follow the same DVD route of so many films with an “Unrated Director’s Cut.” But who cares? We came to cheer, not leer. And if you cherish Smith’s Chasing Amy as I do, you’ll also be heartened by his latest stab at a redemptive love story amid lewdness and lunacy.

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