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Zack and Miri Make a Porno: Chick Flick for Men, or Sex Comedy for Women?

Written by: The CinCitizens


 

Zack and Miri Make a Porno: A Gross-Out Comedy for the Ladies

By Big Ross

While my counterpart has argued both eloquently and passionately that Kevin Smith's latest cinematic offering to the masses is nothing more than When Harry Met Sally glimpsed through the filter of Dumb & Dumber, I see Zack & Miri differently.  This is not an attempt at subterfuge by Smith to tug at the heart-strings of male viewers.  The male demographic aged 18-25 is Kevin Smith's target audience, and has been with him since his days making Clerks and Mallrats.  You can be sure that they will be in attendance when Zack & Miri premieres this weekend, and Smith will give them exactly what they expect to see.  What I would like to argue is that with Zack & Miri Smith is attempting to create, not a chick flick for men, but a raunchy sex comedy for women.  A movie that male fans of his movies can bring their girlfriends and wives to and not have them huffing and sighing and rolling their eyes at the antics onscreen.  A movie that will have them slapping their knees and guffawing right along with their boyfriends and husbands.  Allow me to defend my position in an argument in three parts.

Miri – She is the female lead of this movie, and if Smith was ever going to sell Zack & Miri to women he had to find just the right actress to portray her.  Miri needs to be attractive but not overly so; women should be able to identify with her sans twinges of jealousy at her beauty.  Miri also should be strong, confident, and secure in her sexuality without coming off as a slut, and certainly not as so many chick flicks like to portray female leads: desperate and pining for Mr. Right.  Ultimately Miri has to be a girl that can hang with the guys, but enough of a woman that she doesn't come off as too butch.  Fortunately Elizabeth Banks found her way into the role of Miri.  Banks meets all of the criteria I just mentioned.  She is attractive, but there are flaws and moments women may notice and find more humorous than men (I'm thinking of the "Granny Panties" scene, among others).  Banks makes Miri a portal through which women can enter Smith's world of gross-out humor and reassure them that it's alright to laugh.

The Sex Scenes – Regardless of how the censors have dictated Zack & Miri be promoted, this is a movie that at its center is all about making a porno, i.e. sex.  I'm sure there will be women in the audience with a very negative view of pornography and the demeaning way some examples often portray women.  Here again Smith makes a wise choice to ensure that Zack & Miri doesn't lose its appeal with the female audience.  By having Zack and Miri emulate the porn of decades past, initially attempting to create "Star Whores" complete with a set, costumes, and a script, it makes the porn in Zack & Miri humorous and almost, dare I say, innocent.  This takes away its "edge" and makes Zack & Miri more palatable to those more sensitive viewers, which – not to indulge stereotypes – are probably the viewers with vaginas.  Additionally, Smith portrays the female characters that Zack and Miri contract into helping produce their porno with a bit of depth and strength, rather than simply bringing in flesh and blood blow-up dolls.  It also helps that he includes a scene with a touch of porno role reversal, something many a girlfriend could deliver swift nudge in the ribs to their male companions over.  Of course, it can't all be T&A all the time.  Smith wisely injects a bit of heart and sensitivity into the sex scene between Zack and Miri, choosing not to have either character completely naked (good on both counts as women probably don't want the men in the audience ogling the character they're supposed to be identifying with, and no one wants to see Seth Rogen less than fully clothed).  While other sex scenes throughout Zack & Miri are seen from the point of view of the other characters, Zack and Miri's is much more intimate, focusing more on their facial expressions than the motions of the act.  That doesn't mean that Smith has gone all The Notebook on the male viewers and that the scene is immune from being the butt (pun intended) of jokes, but here again Smith has one of the supporting female characters come to the defense of the intimacy and romance.  Smith manages to balance keeping things crass enough to appeal to the men without offending women.  Of course, it's often funny as hell.  The epitomy of gross-out humor in Zack & Miri comes near the end of the film; I won't ruin it for you, but you'll know what I'm talking about.  Trust me.

The Ending – So Zack and Miri are life-long best friends and roommates who decide to resort to porn to pay their mountain of bills and in the process, yes they have sex and though they promise things won't get weird they do, and they fall for each other.  A classic bit of movie mis-communication drives them apart and sees Zack taking a job that requires him to offer his groin up for target practice to juvenile delinquents with paintball guns – the things a guy will do for a paycheck.  Some of the friends they made during their brief foray into the porn industry convince Zack that he and Miri love each other, and he should go after her.  He does and declares his love for Miri and she her love for him, and they live happily ever after.  Sounds like a chick flick ending, right?  Well, not quite.  Smith deftly includes all of this romantic BS to catch the women in the audience hook, line, and sinker, but does so without layering too much cheese on the proceedings that it is unpalatable to the fart-joke lovers in the audience, which again, not to advance stereotypes but are, let's be honest, the viewers with testicles.  And really it's all just a vehicle, camouflage used to slip in more crass, vulgar, gross-out humor.  From Zack's new "job" to Jason Mewes' interruption of the romantic proceedings with a "grand" entrance and demonstration of the "Dutch Rudder" to the happy ending (no pun intended) that centers on them starting up their own porno production company, this isn't a chick flick in disguise, no sir.  This is a comedy with all the dick jokes and toilet humor and gross-out visual gags men love, but with enough feminine sensibilities to drawn in, and be enjoyed by women.

 

Author: The CinCitizens

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