Kevin & Seth Make A Poor, No-good Movie

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Since his directorial debut in 1994 with Clerks, Smith has been ranked among the likes of Quentin Tarantino and the Coens as having provided some of the most quotable dialogue in movie history.His fondness for comics, contraband, pornography and pointless observational humour catapulted him to cult-status among geeks and stoners everywhere.His 1995 follow-up Mallrats confirmed his reputation, and remains one of my favourite comedy movies of all-time.For the man who gave birth to a new breed of anti-hero in Jay and Silent Bob, discovered Jason Lee and even made Ben Affleck funny, it seemed that Kevin Smith could do no wrong.Unfortunately, as with all good things in Hollywood, this shortly came to an end and Kevin Smith movies became progressively worse and worse.Smith’s first attempt at modern romance in Chasing Amy showed potential, his return to form with Dogma was appreciated but not as highly regarded and while Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back was a commercial success, in comparison to his earlier work, it sucked massive balls.I will completely ignore the fact that Jersey Girl and Clerks 2 were ever released – I hate them so much.When news broke of Zack and Miri Make A Porno, I couldn’t help but be a little excited at Smith’s apparent return to what he does best – frequent course language, nudity and dick jokes.The premise sounded promising and with the addition of funny-man Seth Rogen and the adorable Elizabeth Banks, I was ready to bank on a sure thing.So when a friend called me on the weekend to go and watch a copy he’d downloaded, I quickly dropped what I was doing, grabbed a six-pack from the fridge and trundled over.And while I was very impressed by such a high-quality download, I’m afraid to report that the movie itself was a steaming pile of shit.I’m sure that you can grasp some idea of the plot from the title. It tells the story of housemates and life-long friends Zack and Miriam, who after attending their ten-year high school reunion are left with the horrible feeling that they have never amounted to much in life.As their financial situation goes from bad to worse, the two conclude that the only way to settle their debts and make something of themselves is to film a porno.It seems Rogen has finally reached the inevitable point of overplaying and underselling his ‘lazy stoner with a quick wit and heart of gold,’ and looks to be following in the footsteps of director Smith as a one-trick pony. (See also Will Ferrell and Guy Ritchie)With his recent blockbuster success and growing fan-base, it seems that Rogen has been given the green light to improvise and elaborate as much as possible, and while this tactic paid off in the company of the talented Paul Rudd, by himself Rogen struggles to provide the same kind of wit and resorts to simply raising his voice and yelling a lot. (See also Will Ferrell)Elizabeth Banks is enjoyable as Miri, Zack’s attractive but completely platonic best friend. After memorable appearances in 40 Year Old Virgin and Scrubs, Banks has established herself as one of the few comedic leading ladies, capable of holding their own in such a male-driven genre.It is Justin Long who steals the show as gay porn-star Brandon Saint Randy, star of such adult films as Glen And Garry Suck Ross’ Meaty Cock And Drop Their Hairy Nuts In His Eager Mouth and You’d Better Shut Your Mouth Or I’m Gonna Fuck It.His cameo alongside Superman ReturnsBrandon Routh is one of the funniest moments this year and the only real indication that Kevin Smith is still capable of delivering comedy gold.Unfortunately, this tiny glimpse of hope is short-lived; and during the entire last half of the film, Smith completely disregards the need for intelligent humour or even a structured narrative, opting for a woeful romantic sub-plot between the title characters.To be honest, I find it hard to judge Zak and Miri as a standard Kevin Smith film, when realistically; this is nothing more than a poor Judd Apatow knock-off.Smith blatantly attempts to replicate Apatow’s basic comedy formula – recruiting Apatow regulars in Rogan and Banks to lead an Apatow supporting cast including Justin Long, Craig Robinson and Gerry Bednob, in a traditional Apatow blend of gross-out comedy and heart-felt characters.Having tainted the success of his original masterpiece with Clerks 2 and losing a majority of fans with Jersey Girl, Zak and Miri is the third and final strike for Kevin Smith.While Banks and Long emerge unscathed, demonstrating strong comedic potential, it is Rogen who has suffered most with his first major flop. With an apparently much darker performance in Jody Hill’s upcoming comedy Observe and Report, hopefully Rogen can avoid becoming the typecast actor we’re all expecting him to be.All in all, Zak and Miri is not worth the price of a movie ticket, and as the Weinstein’s have decided to push back the Australian release to late February, I suggest finding a copy from alternate sources.2.5 stars

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