Should You Go See "Zack and Miri Make a Porno"?

Should You Go See "Zack and Miri Make a Porno"?
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Sex

Yes, if you've wondered what's the difference between having sex and making love.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno: sweet love story of two aimless twentysomethings drawn together by a low-budget porno -- or a meditation on the difference between f*cking and making love?

Whether you've seen it yet or not, you know the plot:  Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are platonic best friends since high school who live in a crap apartment somewhere in Pittsburg and goof off at their minimum wage jobs.  But their spending habits are irresponsible and the rent money is short this month.  Facing eviction, with the water and power already turned off, the pair write a script and hire a couple of local actors to film everyone having sex.

But what you might not have heard is that this hilarious, worth-seeing rated-R film, moreso than other comedies in recent years, taps into the sexual politics of the millenial generation:

Sleep together first, ask if we are dating later.

Except in Zack and Miri's case it's sleep together in porn first, ask if they love each other as more than just platonic friends later.

Zack and Miri is really a thinkpiece about intimacy, packaged as a multiplex comedy, which manages to show just how uncomfortable guys and girls are with being honest with themselves about how much they care.  As in Judd Apatow's already well-trod 40-Year-Old-Virgin territory, there is a moral ensconsed the exchange of bodily fluids in Zack and Miri: after the characters mature during the film, sex receives a premium.  The valuable part of the relationship is not the decade-plus friendship Zack and Miri shared (because caring about that would be deeply uncool) -- it is now the sexual act they shared now, which they used to both so freely give away to other people.  

That's the part I found hard to swallow (no pun intended).  Is it realistic to expect it would take two friends' sleeping together to finally question whether they love each other? (If I were some dipsh*t at a conservative think tank, I'd shake my fist, growling, "Feminism is to blame for this mess!" Stay tuned for the condemnation of a crusty know-nothing near you!) Are 20somethings and teenagers today really so desensitized that we don't even know love when we see it -- we have to sleep with it first?

As such, I resented how Zack could care less about the other ladies in the film -- Stacy and Bubbles, who are both porn stars in real life and portrayed as blond, dimwitted, red lipstick-leopard-print-coat wearing sluts.  Despite the fact Miri sleeps around as much as he does, and perhaps even as much as the other actresses,  Zack is protective of Miri showing her breasts onscreen, or sleeping with the male porn stars.  (To be fair, Miri doesn't like Zack sleeping with the women in the film, either.) Nevertheless, the film focuses on a triangle between Zack, Miri and one of the actresses, so I perceived that as a message that slutty girls are discardable until a guy likes one of them. 

I've been in their shoes, too, and had to tease out love interest/friend knot; I don't propose to have any better answers than they do.  Still, I  felt disappointed that this story of confusion about sex in 2008 hit so close to home in a f*cked up way.  (Minus that porno-filming part.  Hi, Mom and Dad!)  It's lamentable some of us are so  jaded and confused about sex and intimacy -- and for what reason? 

In any case, don't see Zack and Miri just to prove me right or wrong.  See it for the best cameo ever by Justin Long -- a drunk gay porn star!

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