MOVIE REVIEWS: Zack & Miri Make a Porno; Rachel Getting Married

Now that I’ve had time to recover from the 2008 World Fantasy Convention, I find I’ve needed to get a bit caught up on the movie front. Both Zack & Miri and Rachel Gets Married are faring poorly at the box office and that’s a shame.

Zack & Miri Make a Porno

Zack & Miri Make a Porno is Kevin Smith’s latest film and is about best friends who are a hair’s breadth from being out on the street. Zack [Seth Rogen] seizes an idea from something Miri [Elizabeth Banks] says – even though she was saying it was something they shouldn’t do – and decides they should go for it. The pair decide that they shouldn’t let their moment of sex on camera change things between them, but of course it does.

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Kevin Smith’s script is sharp, concise and combines the sweet and the gross in ways that remind us that he was doing films like this long before Judd Apatow became famous doing similarly themed material. Besides coming up with what seems like it just might be the ultimate poop joke, Smith mines real emotion and, yes, a sweetness that contrasts nicely with balances the film’s over the top material. It’s a good movie. Go see it [stay through the credits – you’ll be glad you did].

Final Grade: B+

Rachel Gets Married

Jonathan Demme returns with a film that returns Kim [Anne Hathaway] to the bosom of her family on the eve of her sister, Rachel’s [Rosemarie DeWitt] wedding. Kim is just out of rehab and her presence is unsettling for everyone, as there layers of pain and dysfunction to be revealed over the next few days. Those levels are so deep that the marriage of Caucasian Rachel to African-American Sidney isn’t even an issue.

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Jenny Lumet’s script is solid, but – outside of Kim, at least – pretty low-key. One of the reasons that the film works is that the casting is excellent, especially Debra Winger as the sisters’ mother. Another is that the film often veers in unexpected, but real ways – as with the dishwasher competition between Sidney and his soon-to-be father-in-law [Bill Irwin]. Despite having the deepest emotional reaches to plumb, Hathaway’s [who really does deserve an Oscar® nomination] Kim is the glue that holds the film together, rather than the big scene stealer.

How cool is this movie? Robyn Hitchcock plays at the reception! ‘Nuff said.

Final Grade: A-

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