Blu-Ray Review: Kevin Smith Makes a Good Blu-Ray With ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’

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No votes yet Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – The inevitable merging of the Judd Apatow-verse and the View Askew-verse headed by Kevin Smith happened in the underrated and under-seen “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” new on Blu-Ray this week and joined by a Special Edition release of “Clerks II”.

Smith’s best film since “Chasing Amy” comes home to Blu-Ray this week in a release that gets the job done but will likely leave Smith fans a little disappointed. Oddly enough, The Weinstein Company also released “Clerks II” on Blu-Ray this week in a much more impressive 2-disc special edition, proving that the quality of the movie and the quality of the Blu-Ray aren’t always a perfect match.

Seth Rogen (Zack) and Elizabeth Banks (Miri) star in Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make A Porno.
Seth Rogen (Zack) and Elizabeth Banks (Miri) star in Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make A Porno.
Photo credit: Darren Michaels

Kevin Smith himself has credited “Knocked Up” with showing him that not only was Seth Rogen born to deliver the “Clerks” creator’s dialogue hybrid of pop culture references and dirty jokes but that the ceiling on his brand of humor may not be as high as first thought.

Actually, it might be because “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” topped out just barely above Smith’s last string of flicks. Five movies in a row have made between $24 and $32 million, not a huge number but more than enough for these low-budget comedies that surely do very well on the home market.

Seth Rogen (Zack) stars in Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make A Porno.
Seth Rogen (Zack) stars in Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make A Porno.
Photo credit: Darren Michaels

There’s an element of heart that Smith is still missing that Apatow seems to get right and they both need a better editor, but “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” does show a writer re-invigorated by his own style.

There is much to like about “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” but a lot of it goes back to the best performances of the great Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks’ careers. The two star as the title characters, a pair of friends caught waist deep in our current economic crisis. They realize that the only way to make ends meet is to make, well, other things meet.

Zack and Miri become inspired to make a porno movie after running into the gay porn star lover (Justin Long) of an old crush of Miri’s (Brandon Routh) at a reunion. At first, the pair merely plan to sell their adult movie to their old classmates under the idea that anybody would watch their old school colleagues going at it (which is probably true).

The two friends gather a ragtag team including Zack’s co-worker at Bean ‘n’ Gone (Craig Robinson of “The Office”), a stripper named Bubbles (Traci Lords), and, of course, a character played by Jason Mewes who may not be Jay but isn’t too far down the character spectrum. The team prepare to shoot “Star Whores” and Zack and Miri realize that there may be more to their on-screen chemistry than a need for cash.

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” works more often than it doesn’t for one simple reason - it’s pretty damn funny. Rogen, Banks, Robinson, and even Mewes all have excellent timing. Rogen and Banks are the two best leads that Smith has ever had and the power of their comic timing goes a long way. They also, shockingly, sell the romance. You won’t believe me until you see it, but one of the best and most believably intimate love scenes of 2008, and arguably THE best, is in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”.

There’s also something deeper here that I believe Smith is reaching for even if he doesn’t quite get there. Between the boob jokes, there’s something interesting being said about how sex, friendship, and general needs can blur over time. When you’re financially co-dependent and sexually intimate, is actual love inevitable? Zack and Miri need each other in every way, just not physically, until they make porno. Smith may be trying to say that adding the physical element to friendship and co-dependence equals love.

Seth Rogen (Zack) and Elizabeth Banks (Miri) star in Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make A Porno.
Seth Rogen (Zack) and Elizabeth Banks (Miri) star in Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make A Porno.
Photo credit: Darren Michaels

I like what Smith has done with “Zack and Miri” but the main reason it’s held back from true comedy greatness is that the great writer and director really needs a better editor. Anyone could cut ten to twelve minutes from “Zack”. Smith will almost always go one joke too far. If a scene needs four or five fake porno names, Smith will do nine or ten.

In the end (no pun intended), “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” will definitely be a home run for Kevin Smith fans and could be a surprise rental for people who haven’t liked Smith in a while (although they should make sure they’re okay with NC-17 dialogue). Let’s hope it’s not a quickie and Smith has a few more like it in the near future.

The Blu-Ray release of “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” would be above average if it were not a part of the Smith-verse but we’ve come to expect lavish releases for his films. “Clerks II” was also released on Blu-Ray this week with over 6 hours of bonus features, including two full commentary tracks that feature the talkative Smith himself. The special features alone make “Clerks II” definitely worth a pick-up for comedy fans looking to enhance their Blu-Ray collection.

With Smith being so talkative, where is he on the “Zack and Miri” Blu-Ray release? There’s no commentary track from a man who regularly speaks to sold-out crowds. It’s odd. What is included - “Popcorn Porn: The Making of Zack and Miri,” deleted scenes, Money Shots webisodes, Comic-Con 2008, outtakes, ad-libs, bloopers, and “Seth vs. Justin: Battle For Improvisational Supremacy” - is good, it just seems oddly light for a Kevin Smith movie.

The special features may be light for a Smith movie but “Zack and Miri” and “Clerks II” both look fantastic in HD. These are the kind of flicks that you wouldn’t expect to be that enhanced by the format, but I was struck by how good they both looked. Both films comes with English 5.1 TrueHD tracks. Now you can hear dick jokes in surround sound.

‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’ is released by The Weinstein Company and stars Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Jason Mewes, Traci Lords, Jeff Anderson, Katie Morgan, and Ricky Mabe. It was written and directed by Kevin Smith. It was released on February 3rd, 2009.

‘Clerks II’ is released by The Weinstein Company and stars Jeff Anderson, Brian O’Halloran, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach, and Jason Mewes. It was written and directed by Kevin Smith. It was released on February 3rd, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

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