Zach and Miri Make a Porno – DVD Review

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Recently Judd Apatow (40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) has been given a lot of credit for making comedies that are both raunchy and sentimental at the same time. They have all had mainstream success and made stars out of almost everyone associated with an Apatow production. But years before Judd Apatow really became a breakout writer/director/producer, Kevin Smith was arguably doing the same thing with his films. Smith became known for his independent features like Clerks and Chasing Amy, and his creation of the fictional Jay and Silent Bob characters. Add Jersey Girl to his Jay and Silent Bob exploits and you have a good mixture of films from Smith. But Kevin Smith never seemed to enjoy the same kind of mainstream success as Judd Apatow. So maybe in an attempt to “strike while the iron is hot,” Kevin Smith’s newest film, Zach and Miri Make a Porno, has a lot of familiar stars from the Apatow gang along with some of Smith’s familiar faces.

In Zach and Miri Make a Porno, Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are two Pittsburgh bottom feeder platonic pals who have been rooming together since graduating from high school a decade ago. When their utilities get turned off for nonpayment, stud geek Zach devises a plan to raise cash by putting a porn movie together, starring himself and Miri. Which is stemmed after an embarrassing video shot in secret with a coffeehouse customer’s camera phone of Miri in her granny underwear ends up on YouTube and is a smash hit.

Like Judd Apatow, Kevin Smith has always tried to push the boundaries of the restricted rating, so that his films can be aired in theaters with a chance to succeed. Smith took a chance by having the word “porno” in the title of this film. On the surface, this comedy is about making an adult film, but by no means would anyone consider this an adult film. Yes, there is nudity, gross-out gags, and lots of vulgar language. But no more than what you would see in the usual Judd Apatow film. If you get past all of the vulgar language that Kevin Smith litters throughout his films, you will see that Kevin Smith is really a romantic at heart. Zach and Miri has heart as this films turns out to be a bizarre combination of romantic comedy and sex comedy. This is basically the same formula that Apatow has been using for years.

What really makes this film work is the cast. Strangely enough, Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks have tremendous chemistry together. They are the heart and soul of this film, and no matter how absurd this film sounds, they always bring things back to reality and believability. In addition, to the the top stars, the supporting cast is also strong. From Kevin Smith regulars (Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, et al.) to a bunch of fresh comedic faces, including a couple of real porn stars, every role is played almost flawlessly.

Zach and Miri is funny, if you like Kevin Smith’s sense of humor, but the plot is predictable and the ending seems a little rushed. At the same time, while Smith fans might find this film funny, those same fans might be turned off by all of the sentimental elements in this film. Then again, those same elements were also in Jersey Girl and Chasing Amy. But then there’s the argument that Smith was selling out for a mainstream audience, following the Judd Apatow formula for a successful comedy. Arguments on whether Judd Apatow or Kevin Smith is the one copying the other is basically like arguing “which came first: the chicken or the egg?” Really Zach and Miri is just a sign that Kevin Smith has grown up as a filmmaker, not so much with the overall subject matter of the film, but more to do with the multiple layers that are in this film. While one person can enjoy this comedy’s raunchy moments, another might be well inclined to define it as a unique romantic comedy; not to mention it is a fun, behind-the-scenes look at making a film (albeit a porno) on the cheap – almost like Kevin Smith is winking at the fact at how his career got started in the first place. So if you can get past the title of the film and aren’t offended easily, you will surely find something to be entertained by in this film.

The video is given in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TV. Overall, this film is presented about as good as you can expect from this type of film. It’s not the greatest looking film ever, but it’s an above-average presentation. No major problems at all, though.

The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English and Spanish as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No problems here either.

“Popcorn Porn: The Making of Zach and Miri” Documentary
This is a 74-minute documentary that covers every aspect of the production of the film – from 1996, when Kevin Smith first started thinking about the concept, through the wrap party, with plenty of detail on both the film’s signature special effect shot and the ratings battle with the MPAA. This almost makes up for the fact that there is no audio commentary from Kevin Smith on this film. This is a very in-depth “making-of” ece that goes well beyond the usual stuff you see for every other film. Entertaining and informative, and a “must-watch” for sure.

Deleted Scenes
There are 45 scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the film, and these total 95 minutes. There is lot of “extra” material here that is worth checking out for fans of this film. Overall, these scenes probably don’t add a whole lot to the film, but there is definitely some funny stuff in here worth checking out.

“Money Shots” Webisodes
There are 22 of these and they total 50 minutes. These go further “behind-the-scenes” of making this film. There is good mix of silly and serious interviews with the cast of the film, information on various aspects of making this film, and a series of PSAs titled “The More You Porno.” These were previously available online, but they are mostly funny and worth watching if you have not seen them before.

2008 San Diego ComicCon
The cast participated in a 23-minute panel made up mostly of questions and answers with the audience. Another opportunity to hear the thoughts of Kevin Smith and the main cast on this film. Again worth watching, if you still need more information on this film.

“Gang-Bang” Bloopers
This is a 19 minute collection of bloopers, gags, and ad-libs. Somewhat funny, but as hilarious as you might think.

“Seth vs. Justin: Battle for Improvisational Supremacy – Part I” Featurette
This runs 4 minutes and it’s basically Seth Rogen and Justin Long ad-libing during their funny scene together. However, the the second part of this ad-lib session between Rogen and Long is included ONLY on the Blockbuster video rental copies of the film. It seems to be the only place to see this segement and not available for purchase.

Clerks, but Kevin Smith has evolved and so should they. If you get offended easily by these types of films, then obviously you won’t like this film. But like I said it’s worth a rental for fans of “sex comedies”. In addition, there are enough extras here that it would make this DVD an easy recommendation to purchase if you enjoyed this film at all.


Weinstein Company Home Entertainment presents Zach and Miri Make A Porno. Directed and Written by Kevin Smith. Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Mewes, Craig Robinson, Katie Morgan, Traci Lords, Justin Long, Jeff Anderson, and Brandon Routh. Running time: 101 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: February 3, 2009.
Available at Amazon.com

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