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Kevin Smith Makes a Porno

But the Porno-making director speaks like a real comic Everyman

By tt stern-enzi · October 29th, 2008 · Movies


A recent Rolling Stone article entitled “What’s So Funny? The New Golden Age Of Comedy” dubs the current trend in laughs “The New Awkward” thanks to the sense of unease that has replaced the standard setup leading to a punch line foundation.

I would push their argument even further, in terms of film, due to the raging success and overwhelming output of the Judd Apatow factory. “Bromance” has remixed the romantic comedy rules and unwashed losers wittily slacking through the grind of love, jobs and weed. They speak in halting yet educated quips, and we fill the gaps with laughs of recognition because it’s as if cameras have been trained on random assemblages of twenty and thirtysomething guys in our natural habitat and the footage has been edited into a loose narrative shape of things things, you know, us-like.

It should be noted, though, that Apatow gets far too much credit for this discovery and definition of the new age. Years from now, researchers will come to realize that Kevin Smith spiked his flag on this not-exactly-virgin soil, cinematically speaking, back in 1994 with Clerks and has continued to mine this fertile ground like its dirt is in his blood.

His secret could be that he keeps it simple. Even when he’s making a romantic comedy porn as in his latest Zack and Miri Make a Porno, its all about the relationship between the leads, Zack (Seth Rogen of Apatow fame) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks playing all sides from W.

to the upcoming Role Models), Zach and Miri are BFFs since grade school who have fallen on hard times (no pun intended) and figure the best way out would be to make a porno without letting the sex complicate the good thing they’ve got going between them. Simple and innocent, right?

Smith has an Everyman vibe and an innate desire to keep it real. When asked during a funny phone interview who or what serves as his muse, Smith plainly states that it’s the audience.

“Anyone who’s listening or has an interest in me making a movie or doing a Q&A, that’s where it comes from,” he says. “If people had lost interest a long time ago, I would have dropped out of doing what I’m doing. I bring no erudition to the subject (filmmaking). I just come across as a dude who got lucky and I suppose that’s what I am.”

The simplicity factor ensures that the heart of the matter in Porno is just that — the heart, and not the quick and cheap thrills of sex. R-rated sex, but still likely more than some audiences around the country will be willing to stand.

Porn is notoriously denigrated for lacking narrative thrust, which certainly isn’t the issue in this case because as Smith points out, “at the end of the day, (I’m) a storyteller in a very high-profile medium, but at the same time it’s no different than any other storyteller.”

The skin flick is a device that brings Zack and Miri together, and not just them but a whole community of outcasts with a range of somewhat specialized talents and funny foibles. But Smith, along with his cast, makes sure to let them speak for themselves and audiences get to hear and relate to these voices.

Smith is — and hopefully always will be — a storyteller striking the comic vein for all its worth.

“People sitting around talking — that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years, and it comes in waves,” Smith says. “Interest in dialogue and talky movies, as long as they have a comedic bent, will always have an audience.”

Whether in interviews, before college crowds eager to ask questions and hear his raucous and rambling anecdotes or in film (or television or comic books), he’s talking directly to us in the familiar and bawdy language we speak amongst our closest friends.



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