Posts Tagged ‘zack and miri make a porno

29
Dec
08

Is Kevin Smith Still Relevant?

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Writer, director, and comic book artist Kevin Smith came into the Entertainment Scene in 1994 releasing his first film, “Clerks,” about a Quick Stop convenience store employee who was dealing with relationship problems while having problems with customers. Using credit cards and money borrowed from his family, as well as shooting at the Quick Stop where Smith worked during nights and in-between customers, the movie was an epitome of the Independent Films of the Nineties and traveled the film festival circuit before being picked up by Miramax, which gave him money to shoot additional scenes as well as pay for music rights (which cost more than the film itself).

 

The next year Smith received a bigger budget and made “Mallrats,” a movie about comic book-loving slackers who are dumped by their girlfriends and seek refuge at the local mall. This film featured a few people from “Clerks,” most notably the duo Jay and Silent Bob (Jay Mewes and Kevin Smith). The film’s budget was $6 million and brought in $2.1 million; a nearly critical failure for Smith. The best thing to come from this movie was that it was Jason Lee’s debut, who went on to do more Kevin Smith movies as well as the film “Almost Famous” and the hit NBC series, “My Name is Earl.”

 

Smith redeemed himself with the follow-up, “Chasing Amy” (1997) Ben Affleck starred as Holden McNeil, a comic book artist who falls in love with a lesbian comic book artist played by Joey Lauren Adams. The movie was a critical hit for Smith, being better received than “Clerks” and especially “Mallrats.”

 

From that point Kevin Smith climbed the filmmaking ladder with follow-up hit, “Dogma.” Smith had gained more “star power” with casting Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, George Carlin, Janeane Garofalo, and Alanis Morissette. Made on a budget of $10 million, it earned most of it back within its first weekend ($8 mil). Controversy from the Catholic Church surrounded it, possibly driving more people to go and watch it.

 

With the characters Jay and Silent Bob, as well as the inter-weaving of stories through Smith’s “View Askew Universe,” it was only fitting that Smith’s next film was, “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” following the two convenient store misanthropes as they head to Hollywood to stop production of a Bluntman and Chronic movie. Smith has called it a “$15 million inside joke,” making it for the fans and to tie-up any loose-ends of the “View Askew Universe.”

 

And with the finalization of “Jay and Silent Bob…” Smith was closing a chapter on what made him famous: slacker characters and “dick and fart jokes.” As quoted by Ben Affleck: “Why in God’s name would I wanna keep writing about characters whose central preoccupations are weed and dick and fart jokes? I mean, ya gotta grow man. Don’t you ever want anything more for yourself?” Kevin Smith did, and walked away from the characters in View Askew.

 

Three years later Smith returned with “Jersey Girl.” Most the fanbase, reared on “Jay and Silent Bob” as well as Smith’s dialog (read: cussing and weed, dick, and fart jokes) turned away. The reasons differed, but most of the reasons stem from Ben Affleck’s relationship with Jennifer Lopez. To his credit, Smith made a good film. Not great, and not what he had built his career on, but it showed that Smith’s “Peter Pan” syndrome was well behind him.

 

Or so it seemed.

 

Sans any good ideas, Smith returned to his roots: “Clerks.” Cashing in on “sequel-itis,” “Clerks II” showed slackers Dante and Randall having to find jobs after the Quick Stop catches on fire. Here Smith returns to what made him popular: the View Askew Universe of characters. While the film did make its money, “Clerks II” was a far cry from Smith’s previous VA Universe ventures.

 

Which brings me to “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” Greenlit by the Weinsteins before Smith had even written the script, “Zack and Miri” follows as two lifelong friends, strapped for cash, make a porno. Reportedly, this was based on Smith’s experiences in making “Clerks.”

 

And it’s this stagnation that makes me question Kevin Smith as a filmmaker. Ever since Smith has “struck out on his own” from the View Askew-verse, his road has been worse than a flat tire forced across speedbumps. I will give him credit for “growing up” and making “Jersey Girl,” and accept why it wasn’t as popular as his previous entries. However, he has mined the “Clerks” shaft all the way to China. He made a “Clerks” animated series, released a special “Clerks X” DVD with commentaries, original version, etc., and made a sequel not even as good as the original (which, in the world of his characters, requires chastising). Harlan Ellison once said that, “Gene Roddenberry had only one good idea in his lifetime, and that was ‘Star Trek.’” It seems that “Clerks” may be Smith’s “one good idea.”

 

If I had one thing to say to Mr. Smith, it would be, “Yes, I know that you LOVE ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones.’ We GOT that. Can you please move on?” I don’t mind the occasional reference to the series, I love them myself, but how many references to Spielberg and Lucas do you need? For God’s sake man, we get it!” And you can only keep profane language, comic book references, weed, dick, and fart jokes going for so long.

 

So, I’m opening this up for discussion. Is Kevin Smith still relevant? Is he still a filmmaker to be admired, or are his fifteen minutes up? Give me your thoughts.

 

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24
Dec
08

Movie Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno

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Another romantic comedy for the low-brow crowd…

 

Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Mewes, Jeff Anderson, Craig Robinson, Traci Lords, and Katie Morgan. Directed by Kevin Smith.

 

Was this movie anything more than the chance to shoot a faux porno with Jason Mewes getting the most action with porn star Katie Morgan? Or letting Mewes walk around naked? Or just having Traci Lords on set for back-alley cred?

 

“Zack and Miri” is a movie about lifelong friends Zack (Rogen) and Miri (Banks), two friends who have lived around each other growing up in Monroeville and now live together in an apartment. Miri works at the Mall while Zack works at the local coffeeshop Bean ‘N Gone. When the bills pile up too high and their water and electricity are shut off, they come up with a sure-fire way to make money: make a porno. From auditions to borrowing money to their location and equipment being destroyed, this film crew experiences it all. More complications arrive when Zack and Miri eventually discover their true feelings for each other.

 

How is the movie on a basic level? It’s okay. I agree with one reviewer who said, “Only Kevin Smith can make the making of a porno boring…” What kind of porno is being made where the films two main stars, Rogen and Banks, don’t get naked? Again, outside of Morgan and Mewes “getting’ it on,” there’s nothing to see here except the “love story.”

 

And that’s really what Smith is all about. “Clerks” was about a slacker convenience store guy and his girlfriend problems. “Mallrats” was about a slacker whose girlfriend worked at the mall and who was about to lose his girlfriend to another mall manager. “Chasing Amy” was about a comic book guy who falls in love with a lesbian. “Dogma” was about a woman who has given up on love and must stop two angels from destroying the Earth (okay, not his common fare…) “Jersey Girl” was about a guy who lost his wife due to childbirth, loses his job, and must not take care of his daughter. He eventually finds love with Liv Tyler. “Clerks II” finds the convenience store burnt to a crips, forcing the slackers to sell-out to hamburger food-chain Mooby’s, while Dante is about to get married but is falling for his female co-worker Becky.

 

See? A chronology of “love stories.”

 

To get back to the review… The movie was okay. It begins with about 30 minutes of all the characters dishing out trash dialog just for effect. Tarantino, Smith is not. While there are funny parts here and there the majority of the movie goes through the motions, feeling like a throwback to an Eighties rom-com. Rogen and Banks do a good job with the material given to them but everyone else in the cast seems to be sitting around, chewing the scenery. Watching a movie about making a movie shouldn’t feel like sitting around, waiting and watching a movie being made.

 

And how can you have a movie with Traci Lords just standing around, and maybe giving that one sorta “insightful” piece of dialog? That would be like having Shannon Tweed read a teleprompter while shooting a commercial for male-pattern baldness.

 

I could go on about Kevin Smith, asking if he’s even relevant anymore but I’ll save that discussion for another time. Smith claims that without Rogen the movie wouldn’t have been made, but I think the movie was made more for Jason Mewes to be with a porn star than anything.

 

My grade: C

 

26
Sep
08

Movie News and Views Sept. 26, 2008 Trailer Edition

 

 

“Smother” – A young couple (Dax Shepard, Liv Tyler) are having problems in the bedroom because mom (Diane Keaton) has just moved in. Opens September 26, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1289&item=0

 

“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” – Aside from being the story of my life, this is the story of a London journalist who comes to the Big Apple to try his luck. Based on real events. Stars Simon Pegg, Megan Fox, Kirtsen Dunst, Gillian Anderson, and Jeff Bridges. Opens October 3rd, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1094&item=0

 

“Synecdoche, NY” – In Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut, Philip Seymour Hoffman struggles women and building a life-size version of New York in a warehouse for a play he’s staging. If you think that sounds weird, feel free to check out the trailer. Opens October 24, 2008. View the trailer a:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1150&item=0

 

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” – Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are roommates who are having problems making financial ends meet. Solution: make a porno. Kevin Smith wrote and directed. Opens October 31, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=991&item=1

 

“Role Models” – Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd are energy-drink reps who get in trouble and are sentenced to community service via “Big Brothers.” Opens November 7th, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=772&item=1

 

“Milk” – Directed by Gus van Sant, this is the biopic on San Fran’s first homosexual mayor, Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn). Also stars Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, and James Franco. Opens December 12, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1151&item=0

 

“Valkyrie” – Tom Cruise heads up a cast of people trying to depose Hitler in Word War II. Based on a true story, and they’re stickin’ to it. Opens December 23, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=917&item=3

 

“Bedtime Stories” – Adam Sandler watches his sister’s (Courtney Cox) kids. When he reads them bedtime stories, elements of the stories bleed into reality with hilarious results. Opens December 25th, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=884&item=0

 

“Revolutionary Road” – Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet team up again, this time going forward a few years to the 1950’s, playing a couple dealing with personal problems while living in their Connecticut suburb. Opens December 26th, 2008. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=869&item=0

 

“Bride Wars” – Anna Hathaway and Katie Hudson are best friends who are planning on getting married on the same day. Hilarity and hijinks ensue, I’m guessing. Opens January 9th, 2009. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1259&item=0

 

“Inkheart” – Following the same theme of “Bedtime Stories,” this one has Bre-ndan “That’s FRAY-ZER, Not PHRASE-JOUR!” Fraser reading a book that comes to life. Opens January 9th, 2009. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=764&item=2

 

“Notorious” – Biopic of rapper Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G. Stars Angela Bassett and Derek Luke. Opens January 16, 2009. View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1206&item=0

 

“Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail” – The Tyler Perry brand name continues with this one. Opens February 20, 2009. View the teaser at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1256&item=0

 

“The Deal” – William H. Macy is a down-and-out film producer who agrees to do his nephew’s 19-century period piece. But when the action star slated to head-up the cast is kidnapped, he has to get creative. Also stars Meg Ryan, LL Cool J and Elloit Gould. Coming Soon! View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=804&item=0