Zach and Miri Make A Porno Kevin Smith

Zach and Miri Make A Porno Kevin Smith
Being Kevin Smith these days can’t be easy. Though a prince of indie cinema in the ’90s, one look at his waning efforts this decade — Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl and Clerks II — shows that Smith has yet to prove in the ’00s that he still has the goods.

It doesn’t help that Judd Apatow has stolen the "crude comedy that cares” genre right out from under him, quite easily I might add. And so it appears that Smith felt the best way to get on track is to dive headfirst into the world of amateur porn, guessing that’s what his audience was waiting for.

It helps that he gets Apatow protégé Seth Rogen to star as Zach, a deadbeat coffee barista who can’t afford to pay rent and utilities for his Pittsburgh apartment, along with his best friend/roommate Miri (Elizabeth Banks). When they attend their high school reunion, Zach meets a gay porn star who gives him the idea to make a skin flick to raise some cash.

Seems easy enough, and together the two friends hire a cast (including one-time underage porn star Traci Lords and Smith bud Jason "Jay” Mewes) and crew and begin shooting Star Whores, an ingenious concept that includes funny nicknames and dildos for light-sabres.

When a demolition crew destroy their makeshift studio, they retreat to the coffee shop, set up the cameras and use terms like "sexpresso” as their inspiration. Of course, Smith uses the friendship between the titular characters to complicate things when it comes time for their big sex scene, and excruciatingly underlines the sexual tension and gooey feelings that have built for years.

It’s the same old reveal of his that’s foreseen as soon as they hit the screen, and when it blossoms, well, by that point not even a dump taken on the face of annoying Clerks co-star Jeff Anderson will satisfy the average viewer. After the outlandish donkey bestiality scene in Clerks II, Smith appears to think a 13-year-old’s idea of raunchiness is cause for laughter. He is mistaken.

Though the plot could easily be a premise Rogen and Apatow developed, with Smith, Rogen is merely wasted, following a script he’s far too good for, the same of which can be said for rising star Banks. Another Apatow regular, Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express), is the only one able to use the tired Smith-isms to his advantage. As the producer and oppressed husband, he is easily the best thing about this film.

Zach and Miri not only fails to deliver the goods but also raises the question: is there any room left in this day and age for Smith to keep peddling the same old shtick? With the Apatow camp continuing to improve upon his steez, I think the answer is pretty clear. (Alliance)