Writer/director Kevin Smith channels his inner Judd Apatow in his latest film, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” a hysterically offensive comedy with a romantically sweet center that is strengthened by a very talented cast.
Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks play Zack and Miri, lifelong platonic friends who have reached rock bottom financially.
Desperate for money, they decide the best solution is to make an adult film based on “Star Wars.”
Zack and Miri enlist the help of friends (Craig Robinson and Jeff Anderson) and several willing strangers (Jason Mewes and Traci Lords) to get the project going, but once the cameras start rolling Zack and Miri begin to realize they may actually have feelings for each other.
For the first two-thirds of “Zack and Miri,” Smith has made a film that rivals Apatow (the man behind “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up”) in filth and laughs.
Rogan, an Apatow regular, is in his element, while Banks proves she can be just as dirty and funny as the guys.
Both are nearly upstaged by scene-stealing supporting performances from Anderson and Mewes (a Smith mainstay who really should be in more projects).
I will concede that once “Zack and Miri” starts to get soft and gooey, the edge and the filth loses a little steam. Still, I can’t think of a recent comedy that has made me laugh as much.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is “Get Smart” (B-), the adaptation of the popular TV series that is not quite as smart as its predecessor, but works thanks to a capable cast that is able to carry the film just enough to get by.
Steve Carell takes the place of Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, who, when the movie begins, is dreaming of finally becoming a field agent for the secret government agency CONTROL.
When CONTROL’s agents are compromised, Max gets his chance - joining forces with a reluctant Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) to try to stop Siegfried (Terrance Stamp), the mastermind behind the enemy faction CHAOS.
“Get Smart” has two big flaws that nearly sink the film. The first is a rather pedestrian script that could have been used for pretty much any action comedy ever made. Screenwriters Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember sprinkle the film with moments of humor, but nothing is ever as clever as fans of the TV show - (which was created by Buck Henry and Mel Brooks - remember.
The other problem is the rather bloated two-hour running time, which feels like it has about one too many chases for its own good.
However, I managed to leave “Get Smart” willing to overlook those flaws, largely because the talented cast won me over.
Carell does Adams proud, making the Maxwell Smart role his own.
Hathaway has never looked better and has surprisingly good chemistry with Carell (even if their romantic tension was overdone at times).
The supporting cast is just as good - including Alan Arkin as the chief, former WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as another CONTROL agent and James Caan as a George Bush-like president.
“Get Smart” doesn’t have a lot of laugh out loud moments, but it does have plenty of chuckles, which is just enough to make it miles better than other TV adaptations like “Leave it to Beaver” and “Car 54 Where Are You?”
“Get Smart” is rated PG-13 for some rude humor, action violence and language and is now available on DVD.
— Porn? Spies? DVDs? All in a day’s work for sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton, who can be reached by e-mailing email@example.com.