Zack and Miri Make a Porno is the latest film from Kevin Smith, and in some ways, that’s all you really need to know about it. In other words, if you like Kevin Smith movies, you’ll probably like Zack and Miri, which stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks as the quintessential Kevin Smith movie couple – a pair of lifelong friends working dead end jobs (badly) and dutifully avoiding anything resembling an adult responsibility. And naturally, they’re also totally in love with each other, even though they would never admit it, and, due to being sort of putzy, convincingly don’t seem to know it.

Being a Kevin Smith movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno features a cast of adults in various stages of badly arrested development swearing a lot and making dick and fart jokes. There are awkward confessions of love and long rants in which characters loudly reprimand themselves for cramming a seeming lifetime of poor decisions and fuck-uppery into only their late twenties. Since the film revolves around the titular making of a porno, there are plenty of boob shots sure to get the seal of approval from the adolescents and adolescents-at-heart (yes, myself included) who make up Smith’s bread and butter audience. Then there are some more dick and fart jokes, the power gets turned off, and somebody gets their face shat on. And for the most part, it’s pretty goddamned hilarious. But just below the veneer of this mostly by the numbers romantic comedy is a genuinely touching love letter to independent filmmaking and the power it has to change lives.

It’s this subtle sweetness, along with strong performances all around by a cast including porn icon Traci Lords that keeps Zack and Miri Make a Porno from collapsing into a goofy, scatalogical melange and keeps things rolling along for a mostly enjoyable film. That’s not to say it’s without problems, as evidenced by the stumbling, stereotypical portrayals of black and gay characters in the film, an especially disappointing turn of events in light of the fact that Smith has proven before, most notably in Chasing Amy, that he’s capable of penning smart, convincing gay and black characters. It’s just that he chooses not to here, and it’s a loss to th film. But mostly, things stay above the board in Zack and Miri and audiences are left with a lowbrow, hilarious mirror image of what Michel Gondry’s Be Kind, Rewind might have been – an homage to the beauty of filmmaking, and the capacity of creating to help us find who we are. With poop jokes.

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