Zack And Miri Make A Porno [Blu-ray]
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Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (8th March 2009).
The Film

How is it that a film called "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" could actually not be all that great? It isn't that it’s a bad movie - it isn't, really - but that it just feels so empty. It bothers me that I can't decide how much I enjoyed watching it, or if I did at all. Then it occurred to me: the movie succeeded in making me feel absolutely nothing! I really couldn’t have cared less about anything I had just seen. Now, there were funny parts... but they just felt strung together by a weak narrative that's become typical of Kevin Smith's latest films. His days of producing witty, smart dialogue-driven films seem to long gone. I think the film’s biggest fault is that Smith could have really taken a film about making porn into some wild places, but for the most part he plays it so middle-of-the-road that it doesn’t have much soul to keep you engaged.

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have no money and mounting debt so they decide to make a porno for cash. Nothing of any further significance happens that you can't guess almost entirely from the title itself, especially the you-saw-it-coming revelation that they actually have feeling for each other! One very cool thing, though, is that Zack plays hockey for the Monroeville Zombies and the film was shot in and around the infamous Monroeville Mall from 1978’s seminal zombie flick "Dawn of the Dead" (1978). Keep an eye out for that Tom Savini cameo!

It might be hard to believe this, but Kevin Smith directed this movie. It won't be hard once you hear some of the inane dialogue, but you certainly wouldn't know it judging by the cast. Kevin Smith has obviously seen the golden goose that lays Judd Apatow's eggs and he needed to hop on the bandwagon. Smith is essentially making a Judd Apatow comedy; he's got 3 of his actors in lead roles and the film is marketed like an Apatow film. However, unlike an Apatow film, where actors improv most of their lines, Smith's actors are bound to the words he himself has written, mostly. So the comedy feels forced - like Apatow allowed Smith to direct something he put together. I don't dislike Smith's films. Hell, I even warmed up to "Clerks II" (after 3 or 4 viewings), but some of his supposedly "real" dialogue is just trite. Maybe it's because I can tend to be one of those people who references obscure film tidbits all the time, so I don't want to hear someone like me or my friends on-screen necessarily, but I'm sick of constant pop-culture bombs being dropped every 5 minutes. It gets old. "Family Guy" (1999-Present) is a great example of that.

Everyone here is fairly funny, so that does help keep the films slow pace from grinding to a halt. Personally, I thought Justin Long (the Mac/PC guy) was one of the highlights as a gay porn star that inspires Zack to produce porn. Rogen is his usual self, but I think the character Smith wrote for him wasn't taken as far as he could have been. The same thing goes for Elizabeth Banks. I guess you don't really need to know a lot about who they are as people, but I felt they were pretty one-dimensional. Craig Robinsons steals another movie as the barista-turned-porno-producer who is in charge if finding new "talent". Jason Mewes does a good job playing someone other than Jay in a Smith movie. I do applaud the fact that Smith chose to cast real porn stars in the other supporting roles. Katie Morgan does much better than I would have ever thought her capable of. She’s a refreshing addition to the cast. Former under age adult star Traci Lords also stars, and even though she’s not a great actress it’s still fun to see her poking at her past.

Video

The film is presented on Blu-ray in 1.85:1 widescreen with a 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 codec transfer that looks very good. This isn’t a very colorful film; most scenes take place outside during Pennsylvania’s frosty, gray winter. Detail is very good, black levels are rich and the film looks much better than most of Smith’s prior efforts. It’s not a demo/reference-quality picture, but it is certainly the best possible presentation.

Audio

The film’s main soundtrack is an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. Also included is a standard English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Just as with most other Smith films this is a dialogue-driven piece so surrounds are used minimally; they receive most of their use when the soundtrack kicks in. Smith makes use of plenty of good pop culture tunes in his films, thankfully this is no exception.
Subtitles are available in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

As you might expect this disc is loaded with hours of bonus features. Included are a feature-length documentary on the making of the film, over 90 minutes of deleted scenes, online webisodes, outtakes, additional improv featurette and a Comic Con ’08 featurette

Oddly enough, especially for a Kevin “The King of Commentaries” Smith film, there is no audio commentary present. Hopefully he’ll find some way to record and release one in the future.

"Popcorn Porn: The Making of Zack and Miri" documentary, which runs for 1 hour and 14 minutes, covers all aspects of the film’s production. Smith and producer Scott Mosier discuss the genesis of the project, how the entire film hinged on the casting of Rogen, their search for the perfect Miri, they concerns over if the film would ever work, battles with the MPAA and lots of behind-the-scenes anecdotes. As a documentary it’s filled with all the standard stuff, but it’s a good watch nonetheless.

Up next is 1 hour and 35 minutes worth of 43 (!) deleted scenes. Almost longer than the film itself, these scenes are presented in 1080/24p and run in chronological order to the events in the film. Many are alternate takes of existing scenes, but there are also plenty of extended bits and unused scenes as well. I’d say maybe Smith should have left some of these scenes in to help flesh out the film a bit, but I don’t think they would have contributed much aside from padding the 101 minute runtime. The scenes included are:

- "Extended Opening: Zack Vs. The Car Door" which runs for 3 minutes and 52 seconds, shows Zack and Miri getting ready for work. Zack has major problems opening the frozen-solid car door.
- "Fugly Mook" which runs for 1 minute and 5 seconds, Zack has more problems with the frozen door and then insults a woman in a car.
- "More Delaney And Mr. Surya" which runs for 1 minute and 17 seconds, features Delaney and Surya arguing about money and disability payments.
- "Miri Tries On A Few More Outfits" which runs for 1 minute and 52 seconds, features Miri trying on outfits for the high school reunion.
- "The Long Ride To The Reunion" which runs for 39 seconds, is Zack and Miri driving to the reunion, which is a block away.
- "Some More Of The Other Zack" which runs for 1 minute, is Zack getting annoyed by the other Zack from his high school.
- "The Ever-Subtle Miri Linky" which runs for 40 seconds, is more of Miri making a fool of herself with her old high school crush.
- "Zack Gets Curious With Brandon St. Randy" which runs for 53 seconds, where Zack discusses films in Brandon’s catalog.
- "Zack And Miri Win An Award" which runs for 3 minutes and 44 seconds, has Zack and Miri winning a meaningless award at the reunion.
- "Miri Needs A Little More Convincing" which runs for 1 minute and 45 seconds, is Zack trying to convince Miri that making a porno is a good idea.
- "Brother-Fucker" which runs for 2 minutes and 46 seconds, Zack discusses the potential benefits of having sex with a sibling.
- "Delaney's Flatscreen" which runs for 1 minute and 53 seconds, Zack convinces Delaney to invest in their porno rather than buy a flatscreen TV.
- "Porn Names 1" which runs for 1 minute and 21 seconds, Zack and Miri discuss potential titles for their porno.
- "Meeting Barry At The Copley Playhouse Auditions" which runs for 4 minutes and 21 seconds, Zack and Miri find their supporting actor at a local theater.
- "Porn Names 2: The Ice Rink" which runs for 51 seconds, Zack and Miri try to come up with title names at the ice rink.
- "Porn Names 2A: The Laundromat" which runs for 16 seconds, is the same dialogue as the above scene, only set in a laundromat.
- "Porn Names 3: The Incline" which runs for 33 seconds, Zack and Miri discuss potential names while riding a gondola.
- "Porn Names 4: Big Trouble In Little Vagina" which runs for 1 minute, is more of Zack and Miri discussing potential titles.
- "Stacey The Marketer" which runs for 20 seconds, Zack and Miri meet Stacey and discuss the film.
- "Alternate Lester Intro: Lester And Silent Pimp" which runs for 1 minute and 21 seconds, Zack and Miri meet Lester and his silent partner.
- "Bubbles' Second Bubble" which runs for 2 minutes and 3 seconds, Bubbles shows off her special skills to Zack and Miri.
- "Zack And Deacon Get Equipment" which runs for 2 minutes and 22 seconds, Zack and Deacon pick up the equipment for shooting the film.
- "Pegging Foreshadowing" which runs for 35 seconds, has Bubbles discussing her sex scene with Barry.
- "A More Emotional Production Meeting" which runs for 2 minutes and 22 seconds, the cast and crew discuss who’s going to have sex with who.
- "Mr. Jenkins And The Monroeville Soundstage" which runs for 2 minutes and 53 seconds, more footage of Tom Savini as the owner of the soundstage they’re planning to shoot on.
- "A More Emotional Camera Test Day" which runs for 1 minute, Miri and Zack display some hidden emotions for each other.
- "Mr. Surya Takes A Shit And Misses Everything" which runs for 1 minute and 19 seconds, after relieving himself Mr. Surya leaves Zack in charge of the coffee shop.
- "Alternate Swallow My Cockuccino" which runs for 14 seconds, is an alternate take of Zack coming up with a potential title.
- "Abnormal!" which runs for 40 seconds, Zack discusses what makes an abnormal porno work and why they should shoot it in the coffee shop.
- "Before They Swallowed: The Director Deals With Technical And Emotional Questions" which runs for 4 minutes and 8 seconds, Zack is trying to get prepped for the shoot.
- "A Ridiculously Long Porno" which runs for 4 minutes and 22 seconds, Lester and Stacey have a long sex scene while Zack directs the action.
- "Wrapping Out After Day 1" which runs for 2 minutes and 51 seconds, is the crew wrapping for the day and making plans for the night.
- "Zack And Miri Get The Jitters" which runs for 3 minutes and 4 seconds, Zack and Miri are a bit nervous preparing for their scene.
- "A Ham-Fisted Bit Of Foreshadowing Is Removed" which runs for 2 minutes and 21 seconds, shows the lead up the Zack and Miri having sex, and how they react afterwards.
- "What Happens To The Trophy?" which runs for 48 seconds, Miri reacts to Zack’s abrupt move.
- "The Double Dutch Fudge Rudder" which runs for 46 seconds, Lester teaches Zack about various masturbation techniques.
- "Even More Nigga' Rich" which runs for 1 minute and 37 seconds, Delaney discusses the business of making a porno and it’s benefits.
- "Zack And Miri Make A Baby" which runs for 1 minute and 18 seconds, shows Zack and Miri have had a baby.
- "OMG! With Brandon St. Randy" which runs for 19 seconds, is more hilarity from Justin Long as he promotes his latest porno as Brandon St. Randy.
- "Brandon And Bobby Make A Testimonial" which runs for 20 minutes and 49 seconds, Brandon and Bobby espouse the benefits of making their own porno and discuss their love life.
- "Some Rogen Brilliance" which runs for 3 minutes and 45 seconds, features more Seth Rogen improvisation.
- "How To Make A Porno 1" which runs for 1 minute and 48 seconds, Zack and Miri discuss the casting aspect of making a porno.
- "How To Make A Porno 2" which runs for 1 minute and 34 seconds, Zack and Miri show how to shoot a porno.

A series of 22 webisodes called “Money Shots” are available to watch individually or as a continuous piece, which runs for 47 minutes and 44 seconds. Topics range from behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the film to “The More You Know” PSA goofs. They’re funny enough, but they don’t add a whole lot to the production information that wasn’t already learned from the main documentary, these webisodes include:

- "Introduction" which runs for 2 minutes and 22 seconds, Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen introduce the webisodes.
- "Affleck-Tion" which runs for 3 minutes and 38 seconds, Kevin Smith tells Seth Rogen “off camera” that he needs to try to be more like Ben Affleck to add an extra touch to the film.
- "The Ricky Mabe Interviews #1" which runs for 2 minutes and 50 seconds, Ricky and Craig Robinson discuss making the film and their respective roles.
- "PSA #1 - Small Cocks" which runs for 39 seconds, Ricky Mabe reminds you that women love a small penis. - "Seth And Elizabeth #1" which runs for 2 minutes and 37 seconds, Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks interview each other about working together.
- "Kenny Hotz And Seth” which runs for 3 minutes and 25 seconds, Kenny talks abut his role as “the other Zack” in the film.
- "PSA #2 - Dicks Touch" which runs for 35 seconds, Jason Mewes reminds you that if your dick touches another guy’s during a threesome, it’s gay.
- "The Ricky Mabe Interviews #2" which runs for 4 minutes and 2 seconds, Ricky interviews Seth about his role in the film.
- "Seth And Elizabeth #2" which runs for 2 minutes and 53 seconds, Seth and Elizabeth continue their discussion about their careers.
- "Craig And Tisha" which runs for 3 minutes and 24 seconds, Tisha Campbell and Craig Robinson discuss their on-screen relationship.
- "PSA #3 - Ejaculate" which runs for 34 seconds, Ricky tells us how guys in the Southern Hemisphere ejaculate.
- "Seth And Elizabeth #3" which runs for 2 minutes and 22 seconds, Seth and Elizabeth discuss the cast of the film.
- "Kate And Kevin" which runs for 3 minutes and 14 seconds, Kevin Smith and Katie Morgan discuss shooting a sex scene.
- "PSA #4 - Erase History" which runs for 35 seconds, Jason reminds you to erase the history on your computer after looking at porn.
- "The Ricky Mabe Interviews #3" which runs for 3 minutes and 11 seconds, Ricky interviews Jason Mewes about his role.
- "Justin And Brandon" which runs for 3 minutes and 56 seconds, both discuss getting their roles in the film.
- "Seth And Elizabeth #4" which runs for 3 minutes and 53 seconds, Seth and Elizabeth discuss their first experiences with porn in their lives.
- "PSA #5 - Wrap That Rascal" which runs for 54 seconds, Jeff Anderson reminds you to use the proper sized condom when having sex.
- "Jay And Silent Bob" which runs for 3 minutes and 6 seconds, Kevin and Jay discuss the final days of filming and Jay getting naked.
- "Seth And Elizabeth #5" which runs for 1 minute and 39 seconds, Seth and Elizabeth talk about interne porn and things they don’t like in porn.
- "PSA #6 - When You Wipe" which runs for 42 seconds, Jay says to watch out for finger-rippage when wiping yourself.
- "Fake Jizz" which runs for 1 minute and 56 seconds, Seth, Jay and Craig show off the fake semen made for the film.

"Comic-Con 2008" featurette runs for 23 minutes and 9 seconds and features the cast discussing the film. Smith seems to come most alive in a room full of people, so this one is fun to watch.

"Gang Bang: Outtakes, Ad-Libs and Bloopers" is a collection of outtakes, ad-libs and bloopers that features more improv bits and goofs ups from the cast. It runs for 13 minutes.

"Seth vs. Justin: Battle for Improvisational Supremacy Part 1" featurette is just what you think it is. Rogen and Justin go back and forth trying to one-up each other. I’ve always be a fan of Rogen’s comedy, but I’ve really been watching out for Justin Long lately; the guy is incredibly hilarious. This runs for 7 minutes and 24 seconds.

There's also some BD-Live connectivity for those with profile 2.0 players that allows additional access to online features.

Also, as a nice added bonus, is an insert featuring the cast of Star Whores in full costume.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: B Audio: B- Extras: B+ Overall: B-

 


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