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Zack and Miri Make a Porno – Review

7 May

I’m sure that by now, a hefty amount of people have seen Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and it’s safe to say that I’m a little late to the party. This movie did very well at the box office and has since done well in sales. I’m a big fan of Kevin Smith as a director but appreciate his body of work the most as a writer. I was excited to see this movie because of the combination of Smith and the rest of the cast, but I have to say I was really disappointed by what I saw. Zack and Miri isn’t what you call a bad movie or a completely unfunny movie, but if you look at movies like Clerks and Chasing Amy, it’s pretty obvious that Smith is capable of much better work.


Zack Brown (Seth Rogen) and Miri Linky (Elizabeth Banks) are two slacker best friends whose least most concern is paying their bills on time. As the unpaid bills pile up, their luck finally catches up with them and their water and electricity are turned off and an additional threat of getting locked out of their apartment also looms over them. Zack finally hatches a get rich quick plan that, in his mind, seems fool proof. That is to shoot and distribute pornography. As the two gather friends from work and around town which include an overly sensitive Delaney (Craig Robinson), they also begin hiring talent like the astoundingly oblivious Lester (Jason Mewes). Things start looking up for the make shift crew of pornographers, but it isn’t long before real human emotion starts to penetrate the lustful set of the porn movie.

As a comedy, it is pretty average when it comes to the jokes. Something that I really love about Smith’s writing is his ability to write long and drawn out conversations and speeches that seem random, but oddly intelligent and thoughtful. The writing in this movie is pretty average. There are some funny references about film thrown in that made me chuckle, but the really heavy laughter was pretty few and far between. The witty writing and dialogue that seemed to have confidence all its own is nowhere to be seen. Instead, I mostly heard a constant barrage of sex and poop jokes. Now don’t get me wrong. These can be really funny, but when that’s all a movie is I feel kind of ripped off.


There is some joy to be had in this movie, however. A lot of the laughs in the movie didn’t come from the writing, but more so from the delivery of the jokes that were already written. Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks work very well off each other and I feel like a lot of the funnier things in this movie were improvised between the two of them. My favorite part of Zack and Miri is when the two title characters have to film their sex scene for the porno and the way the whole beginning of the scene plays out is incredibly awkward for the both of them. The quick lines of dialogue they say are really funny and just the way they play off each other is great. It was also cool to see Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson, both of whom acted side by side in the two Clerks movies.

As much as I’m putting the writing down, I have to give it to Smith for creating two characters whose developments work very well in the context of the movie. Let’s just say, I buy everything that’s happening between the characters. No one is a cardboard cutout of other characters in comedies like these, and while this isn’t an absolutely hilarious movie, it is nice to see originality in it. For that, I can’t say that this is a bad movie, because any movie that shows honest to goodness originality and spirit put into it, I have to respect and appreciate on at least some level.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a pretty weak attempt by Kevin Smith, especially compared to his other movies that are so memorable and well done. This is also definitely not a comedy for people who can’t stomach things that get too raunchy or dirty, because that’s pretty much all of the comedy involved. I makes me miss the times where Smith made movies that examined a level of society and philosophies that aren’t always explored out of fear of offending people. This movie seems to want to offend just for the sake of offending. If you’re a Kevin Smith fan it’s an alright movie to see, especially for the cast and cameos (including one hilarious one of Kenny Hotz from the show Kenny vs Spenny). Don’t expect too much out of Zack and Miri Make a Porno, but it does have some heart and may be good for a chuckle.


Clerks 2 – Review

11 Jun

Although Kevin Smith intended to end his View Askewniverse series with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, he was always open to the possibility of making more. After the failure that was Jersey Girl, Smith reopened the Askewniverse to properly end the series with Clerks 2. 

As Dante (Brian O’Halloran) is about to open the Quick Stop store for another long day at work, he is shocked to find it in a blaze. How could this have happened? Well he soon finds out that the blame falls on his co-worker Randal (Jeff Anderson) for leaving the coffee pot on after closing. Now they are forced to find new jobs, and wind up at a Mooby’s Restaurant. Dante is soon to be married to his fiancé Emma Bunting (Jennifer Schwalbach) and moving to Florida the next day, so Randal has to give his best friend the best going away present ever at the expense of their boss, Becky (Rosario Dawson), who has her own plans when it comes to Dante. All this is done over the watchful eyes of Jay and Silent Bob who occasionally put in their two sense or wreak their own havoc.

When fans of Clerks found out that there was going to be a sequel, many were very upset even though they haven’t even gave the film a chance at that point. To be honest, I was also a little nervous before popping in Clerks 2 just because of how fantastic the original was. It seems like a very difficult act to follow, and after how ok Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was, I wasn’t as confident in this one.

To my pleasant surprise, I find it easy to rank Clerks 2 up there with the original. It still hasn’t lost it’s irreverent flair that made it so fantastic. There are jokes ranging from the Holocaust to beastiality. The slapstick humor that invaded Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is gone, which leaves room for Smith’s use of brilliantly clever dialogue that mirrors real life and his talent for creating ridiculous situations.

Seeing the original characters again for one last hoorah was a little sad, but awesome at the same time. Throughout the films in the Askewniverse, we’ve heard references and briefly seen Dante and Randal, but we never got to spend a lot of time with them. They are the original characters, and I find them the most interesting so another slacker adventure with them was a must. Jay and Silent Bob are back as well and as crazy as ever. Since they both are clean of drugs (yet, still selling them) they have to do their best to keep themselves occupied to avoid relapse. This is a clever and surprising twist on these beloved characters.

That’s what has always made these characters so great. They are so relatable. I work in retail and love talking about movies and annoying customers, although I do like to think I work a little harder than Dante and Randal. But still, seeing them just trying to get through the day is so satisfying. This time around, Kevin Smith has added a new level of maturity to the characters. They still are mostly up to no good, but they’re beginning to realize that they need to find a set path in their life. They also deal with changing friendships as adults, which may be easier the younger you are. There is a great dramatic monologue given at the end which is surprisingly impacting.

In the end, Kevin Smith has created a foul mouthed gem with Clerks 2. You can tell that Smith treats these characters with a special kind of respect and works hard in creating a story arc that we can all believe. This is a fitting end to the Askewniverse, leaving us with a newfound knowledge of Dante, Randal, and Jay and Silent Bob. The characters live on without our eyes watching, and I even caught myself thinking about what these guys would be up to today. If you love Clerks, then Clerks 2 is a must see.

Enter the Askewniverse – Clerks

1 Jun

As a film student who’s looking to make successful films one day, Clerks is one of those movies that I look at and say to myself, “This is possible. The story concerning how Clerks was made is almost as good as the actual film. It’s a very important movie to me and a testament that if you love what you do, you’re already one step ahead of everyone else.

Dante (Brian O’Halloran) is a convenience store clerk who gets called into work on his day off and reluctantly goes in. Luckily, his friend Randal (Jeff Anderson) works at the video store next door, but spends most of his time at the food store. Throughout the day, these two clerks come in contact with the usual annoying and stupid customers, learn that Dante’s ex-girlfriend, Caitlin (Lisa Spoonhauer), is getting married, play hockey on the roof, and get harassed by the local drug dealers, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).

What is the real driving force of the film is its dialogue. Kevin Smith showed with his first outing in the film world that he is a proficient crafter of dialogue that is both strange and hilarious. I would be easy to see how a lot of people would be critical of this film, other than the dialogue. The camera work is less than stellar. At one point there is a scene of dialogue that goes on for 5 minutes without the camera cutting. This would be great, normally, because I love long takes, but this shot had no action other than two characters standing next to each other and talking.The acting is also not very good. Brian O’Halloran is believable, but the rest of the cast aren’t very good, and deliver their lines in a very unnatural way. Again, this would be  a major issue if the dialogue itself weren’t as great as it was.

Another great aspect of Clerks is how relatable it is for anyone who has ever had to deal with consumers and their many annoying idiosyncrasies. There were times throughout the movie that I thought to myself, “A lot of people would think that this is too crazy too happen.” From my own experience, I know that nothing is too crazy. This makes the viewing of this even more personal, because I know exactly where Kevin Smith is coming from on his commentary of the consumer lifestyle and attitude.

There are those who say that Clerks is over rated based solely upon the acting and the cheap look of the film. I respect their opinion, but what they need to realize is how much of a miracle this movie was to be released and how Kevin Smith showed that not every classic has to have a huge budget and big named actors. What makes this film memorable is how sharp the societal critique all while maintaining itself as an intelligent comedy.

Along with films like El MariachiClerks just goes to show that if a film maker has enough passion for what they are doing, then their movie can be a success. This film goes down as one of my favorite cult movies and gets better every time I watch it. There’s something in it for everyone to enjoy, especially people who have worked in retail and understand just how much of a pain in the ass it really is.