Kevin Smith film uses porno as a means to love

This Tuesday, Kevin Smith‘s latest film Zack and Miri Make a Porno will come to DVD. 

It’s a film about lifelong platonic friends who are broke, disillusioned with their dead-end jobs, and cohabitate in financial squalor. Much like the global financial crisis they need to come up with a “stimulus package” and thus decide to film a pornographic movie so they can have their heat, hot water and electricity again.

Instead, they find the greatest electricity of all as they fall madly in love during the production.

It begins by showing the camaraderie of best friends—Zack Brown (Seth Rogen) and Miriam Linky (Elizabeth Banks) are roommates who are just starting their day in frosty Pittsburgh. Miri’s in the kitchen making coffee when camera pans out for us to see a mass of unpaid bills, dirty dishes and the sad crumbs of deep-seated depression. 

The pair gets their great idea at their ten-year high school reunion from porn star celebrity, who boasts that the gay porn industry brings him nearly $100,000 USD a year for the production and distribution of his films. 

While Zack and Miri may be able to drag themselves out of their financial skids, the profitability of the porn industry is not what it initially claimed to be. A year ago, Newsweek wrote that the size and value of the business was always unclear, which isn’t surprising for an industry that depends on enlarging its appearance. In 2001, Forbes reported that the “Business of Smut” was valued at $2.6 billion to $3.9 billion annually, which isn’t even close to the Forrester Research that estimated $10 billion.

Zack and Miri discover lust first, love second
Zack and Miri discover lust first, love second

The film touches on this a little bit, and has all of the traditionally crude jabs and jokes that porn incites. It even stars former Penthouse model Traci Lords, whose audition involves blowing soap bubbles out of her vagina. “It’s a little something I picked up doing bachelor parties,” she says chewing bright pink bubble gum.

Overall, the film shows how the illusion of pornography hides other meanings. In the financial world, it has the semblance of being more profitable than it actually is, but that is because porn is far more mainstream than people think it is. For Zack and Miri, the illusion of making a pornographic film together brings out deeper feelings for each other that they were previously unaware of. 

Miri: So… what about me? How do I look? 
Zack: I mean, you look beautiful – you always look… so beautiful, so I guess it’s not a big deal. But you… you look amazing. 
Miri: [grabbing his hand lovingly, then quickly beginning to swing it back and forth] Okay! Let’s go make a porno! 

For those who don’t know, Smith has a substantial roster of subversive films. His 1997 flick Chasing Amy starred Joey Lauren Adams, a comic book illustrator whom Ben Affleck falls madly in love with, only to learn that she is a lesbian. 

His style has been likened to Judd Apatow’s, the director who brought similar off-beat, crude comedies such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Superbad. 

While Zack and Miri largely depended on perverted humour and awkwardly graphic sex scenes, it was surprisingly heartwarming.

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