I liked Kevin Smith’s rom-com just fine when I caught it at Fantastic Fest last month, though I’m getting pretty tired of the Smith/Apatow tendency to obscure sappiness with poop jokes. Own it or get over it, boys. The critics are all over the place with “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” which is either heartfelt, tiresome or both.
On the pro side: Roger Ebert, who compares Smith, favorable, to a line cook, and Robert Wilonsky at the Village Voice, who shrugs that “nothing about Zack and Miri feels terribly fresh, much less transgressive,” but adds that “there is something decidedly novel (nay, revolutionary!) about this particular Kevin Smith film: It looks professionally made, which counts for something.” Noel Murray at the Onion AV Club puts it this way: “It’s nice to be able to break from the ritual of Smith-bashing for a change and say that his latest movie, Zack And Miri Make A Porno, is honestly enjoyable.”
Not so nominally impressed: Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly sighs that Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks’ porno scene is “the one naked moment of emotion (and yes, eroticism) in this otherwise coarse movie’s whole tired, simulated premise.” Stephanie Zacharek at Salon agrees that “everything else around that moment is more workmanlike — in that freewheeling, rather messy Kevin Smith way — than it is funny.” “Zack and Miri keeps throwing away the opportunity to be more than a string of undifferentiated puerile gags,” writes Dana Stevens at Slate, while Armond White at the New York Press observes “While Zack and Miri obviously parallels Smith’s own piddling career endeavors, it also exposes his filmmaking inadequacies.” And I’ll give the last word to A.O. Scott at the New York Times, who complains that “thrown away an imaginative premise to get down to predictable, mechanical business. It’s as if Mr. Smith were a plumber who knocked at your door and then, against all reasonable expectations, insisted on fixing the sink.”