Skip It: 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno'

seth-rogan.jpg
Seth Rogan in (l-r): Zack and Miri, Pineapple Express, Superbad, and Knocked Up
Phoebe Reilly WRITTEN BY
Phoebe Reilly

Seth Rogen has got to be kicking himself right now. There are only a finite number of opportunities for him to play a lazy twenty-something whose sarcasm is a substitute for ambition -- and he just wasted one of them on Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Judd Apatow isn't attached to this film -- not even as a producer -- so how did this happen?

There are only two possibilities: Either Rogen hasn't seen a Kevin Smith film since 1997, or he wanted to be able to say "fuck" a lot.

We'll hold Smith accountable. He got away with one bawdy comedy in 1994, and because Apatow graciously claims Clerks had an influence on him, he not only thinks he can write more of the same, but he now intends to capitalize on Apatow's success by casting the phlegmatic star (don't you just want to slap Rogen on the back sometimes?) who turned flabby stoners into the ne plus ultra of good comedy.

Except in Smith's version, the slacker-in-crime is a woman. To his credit, that is kind of novel considering that Superbad, Pineapple Express, and Knocked Up were all dominated by bromance. What's also novel is the idea that two broke friends would make a porno for money. (But isn't that sort of like joining a band to make money? Unless the result is amazing, no one's gonna be paying for it.)

The real difference is that Apatow -- whether as director, writer, or producer -- has an eye for projects in which the man-children mature, even if only to realize they'd rather be immature. And, also, those films are really funny.

Smith, on the other hand, can't keep a straight face long enough to be sincere (or, if he does, he ends up with Jersey Girl). The plot is just a flimsy excuse for a stream of curse words. And the guy still loves the potty humor. Spoiler alert in a very literal sense here: There is a scene in Zack and Miri in which a porn star loses control of her bowels on the face of the cameraman at a pivotal moment in Zack and Miri's relationship. After seeing this, just try caring about these characters' decade-long friendship and the risk that having sex on film for money poses to it.

That moment probably cracked Smith up when he wrote it. You can almost picture his Silent Bob brightening at the unfolding plot in his head: "Okay, the porn star will be constipated...and she will have taken a laxative..." The whole movie is just a running gag. But if Rogen plans on turning this character into a career and not a joke, he might want to be more choosy in the future.

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