Zack and Miri Make a Porno is an extremely funny flick, written and directed by Kevin Smith.

The premise of the film is rather simple. Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are a pair of roommates who have been friends, strictly platonic mind you, since the first grade.

After months of neglecting the bills, and some rather poor financial decisions, such as the classic conundrum of new hockey skates versus paying the rent, they find themselves in rather dire financial straits. They are forced to attempt to live without power, heat, or water, burning their unpaid bills in a garbage can in order to stay warm.

Needless to say, this situation is less than ideal, and some way of generating some additional income must be found, before they freeze to death in the harsh Pittsburg winter.

So, they decide to rob a bank.

Just kidding. They decide to get naked and bump uglies. On film. But since they have a frank discussion beforehand about how it’s merely porn and doesn’t mean anything, it has no effect whatsoever on the status of their platonic relationship.

Just kidding. It’s a bloody romantic comedy. What do you expect is going to happen?

They’re helped out in the effort by Delaney (Craig Robinson), a co-worker of Zack’s who agrees to produce the film, Deacon (Jeff Anderson), the goalie on Zack’s hockey team, who serves as the camera man, and Lester (Jason Mewes), Bubbles (Traci Lords), Barry (Ricky Mabe), and Stacey (Katie Morgan), hired as on screen talent.


As I’m sure that you could tell from the title, the film was a rather controversial one. Most importantly, of course, was the actual rating that the film received. When Smith originally submitted the film, it received a rating of NC-17, which would have greatly restricted the number of theatres willing to play the movie.

While the film is definitely not for prudes, the title alone should make that obvious to anyone. The MPAA’s main concerns were with how “graphic” some of the sex was, as well as with one scene’s featuring of fecal matter in what would be a rather unpleasant manner. Smith challenged the rating of the film by making the argument that it was hardly any worse than other films which had received “R” ratings. One of the examples used was the sex scene between Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke in Taking Lives, which was much more graphic and not nearly as campy as anything in Zack and Miri. As well, he referenced scenes in Jackass, which featured a Fart Helmet worn by Steve-O, where one of the cast members actually shat into Steve-O’s air source, causing him to vomit. The argument being that if real poo can get an “R” rating, that fake poo doesn’t deserve an NC-17.

Smith ended up getting his “R” rating, which isn’t to say that the movie is exactly tame. It still does feature full frontal nudity, both male and female, and it does feature people having sex, although of course it doesn’t show any actual penetration.

Despite the victory in the rating, there were other issues with the MPAA. In April of 2008, Smith posted on the movie’s website an on-line only trailer of Banks and Rogen ad-libbing, material that was not in the film. The MPAA insisted that they take down the clip, saying that they were also in charge of all marketing material, and that they hadn’t approved of it.

As well, the MPAA refused to approve the movie poster for the film, which showed two shots, a dumbfounded Rogen on the left, and a grinning Banks on the right, with the top of the backs of each other’s head visible at crotch level on each side. While this is clearly implying oral sex, they are of course fully clothed. In the United States, the poster that replaced it showed a pair of stick figures in front of a stick camera, with the text “Seth Rogen & Elizabeth Banks made a film so titillating that we can only show you this drawing.” Of course, at the same time, they did not seem to have a problem with the poster for Saw V, which featured a man wearing a mask that was made out of someone else’s face. This is hardly the only example of the MPAA’s clear bias for violent content, and against sexual content. And this is one of the reasons why all of Europe makes fun of North Americans for being repressed.

Then, after all the problems with the MPAA, there was still an issue with some of the advertisements. Apparently some places had such a problem with the word “porno” that they refused to run an advertisements that included the word. At least 15 newspapers and “several” TV stations refused to run the ads based upon the content.


But, despite all these hurdles, the film got made and released, any many laughs were had. No one offended by the idea of sex accidentally went to go see a movie titled Zack and Miri Make a Porno. And it is doing rather well for itself. The film debuted at #2 in the box office for the weekend of 31 Oct – 2 Nov 2008, just behind High School Musical 3: Senior Year, having taken in $10.6 million, including $20 from me and my girlfriend. It was funny. It was heart-warming. I highly recommend it.


Sources:
Zacharek, Stephanie. "Mr. Smith makes a 'Porno'," Salon.com Arts & Entertainment. 09 Sept 2008. <www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/2008/09/09/smith/print.html> (03 Nov 2008.)
IMDb.com, Inc. "Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)," The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). <www.imdb.com/title/tt1007028/> (03 Nov 2008.)
Billington, Alex. "Zack and Miri in Trouble Again for the Word ‘Porno’," FirstShowing.net 16 Oct 2008. <www.firstshowing.net/2008/10/16/zack-and-miri-in-trouble-again-for-the-word-porno/> (03 Nov 2008.)
Hunter, Rob. "More MPAA Troubles for Zack and Miri Make a Porno," Film School Rejects | Movie Marketing. 03 Sept 2008. <www.filmschoolrejects.com/news/morempaatroubles.php> (03 Nov 2008.)
Box Office Mojo. "Weekend Box Office Results for October 31 -November 2, 2008," Box Office Mojo 02 Nov 2008. <www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/> (03 Nov 2008.)

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