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Review

Filmmaker delivers crass humor with ‘Zack and Miri’

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November 6, 2008

In recent years, Judd Apatow has made a killing churning out crass comedies with a hefty dose of heart. But lest we forget that it wasn’t so long ago that cult filmmaker Kevin Smith introduced viewers to such a style. But don’t look upon the man’s latest picture, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” as some sort of attempt to reclaim this thematic territory.

Instead, just think of “Zack and Miri” as Smith merely doing what he does best, having crafted a comedy that’s easy to figure out but even easier to have a lot of good laughs with.

Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks play Zack and Miri, current roomies and lifelong friends who’ve danced around taking their relationship to the next level. The pair returns home after their high school reunion only to find themselves stripped of power and basic utilities.

But thanks to an embarrassing video of the two that’s become an Internet hit, Zack comes up an idea to make some quick cash: create their own pornographic film.

In just a few days, Zack and Miri gather all the ingredients they need for their project, from a particularly well-endowed star (Jason Mewes) to a script that puts an erotic spin to George Lucas’ “Star Wars.”

But the time eventually comes for Zack and Miri to be intimate with one another, an event that will change the course of their friendship either for better or for worse.

The best part about “Zack and Miri” is that Smith acknowledges the outrageousness of the story, especially when the turn of events forces the titular duo into a rather awkward position.

The film’s life lessons aren’t learned with as much difficulty as those in “Chasing Amy,” nor is the ending that hard to surmise.

But while the umpteen “American Pie” sequels are content rehashing old sex comedy clichŽs, Smith is actually trying to do something sweet and even a little profound with the formula.

However, Smith never loses sight of his other top goal: making you soil yourself in laughter. I dare not recount some of the events that took place, but let’s just say even the most cynical of viewers will get a few chuckles shocked out of them.

At this point, Rogen can play a disheveled schlub in his sleep, but luckily, he comes across with an endearing performance, turning Zack into the type of slacker you truly end up rooting for. I still say Banks wasn’t the best choice for Miri, though I’ll admit that her cheery performance grew on me after a while.

There’s been quite a bit of brouhaha stirred up about “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” particularly surrounding its scandalous title. But trust me when I say that this is a film with more soul than the dreadful dreck Hollywood shoves into multiplexes on a regular basis. So what if there are a few taboo words bandied about?

There’s a lot more to be concerned about than “Zack and Miri,” a well-meaning romp with the best of intentions and even better jokes.

MY RATING: Three and a half stars (on the five-star scale)

A.J. Hakari is a student at UW-River Falls.