| The Red Right Hand
ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO
Zack Brown [Rogen] and Miriam Linky [Banks] have known each other since Primary School and yet their relationship is entirely platonic. On receiving notification of their ten year high school reunion, both reluctantly agree to attend. Whilst there, Miri attempts to seduce old crush, Bobby Long [Brandon Routh] while Zack coincidentally talks to Bobby's boyfriend, Brandon [Justin Long]. The interactions between the couples are very amusing, though a little stereotypical. On returning home, alone, Zack and Miri's unpaid bills catch up with them and their various utilities die. Sitting in their living room around a flaming bin, Zack remembers that Brandon explained he worked in pornography and makes bundles of money off of it. In some insane act of unconscionable desperation, Zack suggests they make an amateur porno, convincing Miri that an earlier video leaked onto the internet gives them fame-credibility. And so the endeavour to film a home-made pornographic movie begins. Cue casting jokes, cue lewd conversations, cue gratuitous nudity and cue a handful of very funny one-liners.
**Mild - yet somewhat predictable - spoilers**
Many years ago I reviewed a film (The Moguls) and was surprised to find myself the only critic who enjoyed it. It was graced with a healthy cast, humorous set-ups and a plot premise that meant that the final cut showed no actual nudity. I feel, as I did then, that it was a very entertaining spin on a ridiculous premise. A few years later I was forced to watch the abysmal I Want Candy release; which was dreadful. The jokes weren't funny, the acting wasn't particularly engrossing and yet the plot followed almost exactly the same story and conclusions. To a degree, Zack & Miri follows suit and despite being very entertaining and humorous in places, this is my primary reason for bashing it down. Two people who have never expressed an interest in one another somehow get the idea that making a pornographic movie will bail them out of some ridiculous rut. This is followed by the obligatory casting sessions and observations of flaws in amateur sets. Finally our two leads find value in one another either through watching, filming or in fact acting out sex and as such fall in love, confess said love and live happily ever after. The final mandatory stage is to show the 'where are they now' section, in which you must highlight that they are still happily together and haven't turned their back on films or porn or something.
I don't really want to go into the nudity or controversial ratings issues that the Americans blathered on about for so bloody long because it's irrelevant on this side of the Atlantic... but I will anyway. Despite the film being tamer than most contemporary horror films, Kevin Smith still had a hard time getting the MPAA to give the film a standard R rating. I know this means nothing to British audiences but bear with me. So, eventually the MPAA fold and award the film this R rating thing but other than a few moments of nudity and briefly simulated sex (showing less than an HBO series would) I really didn't see what all the fuss was about. You can show a lady strapped to a chair forcing out a baby she was forcefully impregnated with, only to meet a horrid and grisly end but straight sex is far too offensive? I don't know, I'm quite a prudish git but I'm also a foul-mouthed wanker so I'm partly split on the whole thing. The thing is, Smith's brand of comedy has always struck me as lewd and dirty but not in the same way that films like Disaster Movie or Epic Movie conduct themselves; it's the difference between Jim Davidson whipping out some disgraceful comments and smiling (as if to imply they're funny) and Jack Dee saying something surprisingly foul - it's not what the performer is saying, it's how the line is delivered. I realise that may sound overly convoluted but think about it for a minute. If you don't understand, just go back to laughing at Davidson, for you are a moron. The thing is, minus the swearing, this doesn't feel like a Kevin Smith film, it feels like a Judd Apatow release.
The acting was all very entertaining with a surprisingly sober, focused performance from Jason Mewes but nothing really outside of the box from Rogen or Banks. That's not to say they didn't do well, just I've seen them play this roll 'well' throughout their last four releases. It was also nice to see the welcome return of Jeff Anderson, who I actually think is a very credible acting talent. Then there was (for lack of a better word) the 'totty' - the girls hired to simply talk dirty or get naked. Ex-pornstar Traci Lords acted surprisingly well but her younger (still pornographically active) co-star, Katie Morgan, just pissed me off immensely; like a big, fake breasted Martin Lawrence. Angry black-guy, Delaney (played by Craig Robinson), felt forced (like his dialogue was written by a white guy) and strangely enough, a little irrelevant. I understand that a black President doesn't make up for years of slavery blah blah but we got through it in the UK without actually rewarding anybody and now that you're in a position of power with the same rights as everybody, I don't really understand how people can justify the snide attitudes from either side; if anyone should feel pissed off, its women. Let the cries of 'racist' and 'bigot' ring out - it's just an opinion of mine.
Overall the film is very entertaining and doesn't hold a lot back. With a title like this one, the audience should know what brand of humour to expect and as such I doubt there will many complaints from cinemagoers who accidentally stroll in thinking it would be an innocent romantic comedy. With that said, I'm still marking it down for its lack of originality and how the romance element was handled.
14th November 2008
The Scene To Look Out For:
As with most Kevin Smith films there are far too many hilarious interactions to single out just one but I suppose one of my favourite scenes would have to be the conversations about the FleshLight. I'm sure you innocent people have no idea what I'm referring to, so I shall explain. The FleshLight is a play-on-words for flashlight (the stupid name yanks use for a torch). The idea being that this is a torch-shaped device with a silicone filling that is supposed to feel like a vagina. The element that made the conversation funny is Miri's hypocritical statements that the idea of a guy using a machine to get off is gross. Zack continually points out that a woman using a vibrator is the exact same thing so she should get off her high horse. I don't know, I'm all for true equality between people (I know, you wouldn't think it but I do think everyone should be treated the same... 'cause I hate them all without prejudice), so I found it amusing.
Although his angry-black-guy routine kinda pissed me off, Robinson still managed to deliver the best performance and his interactions with and about his wife generated a large percentage of laughs in the audience.
ZACK: "I've known her since the first grade. You don't fuck someone you met in first grade."
DELANEY: "Excuse me, I met my wife in kindergarten, we got married senior year and she's been the queen of my world ever since"
ZACK: "But what if you could do it all over again?"
DELANEY:"I would jerk off and live by myself, that woman is the bane of my existence"
In A Few Words:
"Hilarious in places, stupid in others"