An Elizabeth Banks romantic comedy about making a porno movie. That right there is enough to raise eyebrows, interest, and whatever else needs raising and it has made its way to Netflix.
Zack and Miri Make A Porno stars Elizabeth Banks as Miri and Seth Rogen as her longtime friend and roommate Zack. They’ve been friends since first grade. Even though they both have steady jobs, Zack in a coffee shop and Miri at the local shopping mall, the pair have not paid their utility bills in months. Can you say irresponsible?
This lack of responsibility comes at a price as the night before Thanksgiving and right before they are heading out for their high school reunion, their water is turned off. The pair head to the reunion anyway, where Miri tries her best to seduce one of her attractive former classmates, Bobby Long (Brandon Routh) while Zack is conversing with Brandon St. Randy (Justin Long). During the conversation, Zack finds out that Brandon is a gay porn star and Bobby’s boyfriend.
When Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks’s characters return from their reunion, things immediately go from bad to worse. Not only is their water not working, but their electricity also gets shut off. Inspiration comes in weird ways as Zack, based on a viral video and the popularity of mainstream acceptance of porno, somehow convinces Miri that they should make a porno movie to raise some money to help pay their bills.
Putting together their crew of friends and acquaintances, they first decide to make a Star Wars parody porno they call Star Whores. Zack’s friend Delaney (Craig Robinson) rents the equipment and a small building for them to use for their X-rated project. But when they return after their first night of shooting, the building is being destroyed with all the equipment and costumes inside. Apparently, the man who rented them the building took the money and ran.
Back at Zack’s day job, he remembers that his boss had been threatening to install security cameras, one of which Zack finds. Zack then decides to use the camera as a replacement for the one destroyed and then retool their porno story to where they will now film it in the coffee shop after hours. Now comes the sticky part.
Being friends for such a long time, Zack and Miri promise each other that having sex on camera will not in any way affect their relationship. But when the time comes, the pair perform their sex scene with much more heart and feeling than any sex scene shot prior. Uh oh, blossoming love in a porno.
The cast and crew present Zack and Miri with a gift. They pool their money and pay the pairs’ utility bills for a month and decide to throw them an early wrap party. Things get even stickier as at the party, one of the female cast members, Stacey, asks Miri if she could have sex with Zack because she is nervous about filming her sex scene with him the following day. This is when Elizabeth Banks’s character realizes then that she has feelings for Zack.
Then, when Miri is scheduled to shoot a sex scene with another actor, Zack has replaced her with Stacey. Miri shows up, insisting that she shoots the scene. This is when Zack realizes his feelings for Miri. Things become even more complicated for Zack and Miri forcing Zack to quit the film, then his job, and then he moves out of the apartment. Will Zack and Miri find their way back into each other’s arms?
To get on board with this film, it’s highly advised to be a Kevin Smith fan. While Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogen star, Kevin Smith wrote, directed, and even edited the film. To many, his sense of comedy is an acquired taste. It is Kevin Smith naughty and vulgar, which got the film an NC-17 rating through his first couple edits and took an appeal by Smith to the MPAA for it to finally receive an R-rating.
Elizabeth Banks was not Kevin Smith’s first choice to play Miri. The movie was actually set to be a Rosario Dawson vehicle, but she was eventually unable to accept the role as her shooting schedule for the feature Eagle Eye wouldn’t make her available for Smith to use.
The movie is notable for Kevin Smith using a number of current (at the time of shooting) porn stars or ex-porn stars that included Traci Lords, Katie Morgan, and Ricki Raxxx.
The film, though not a critical miss, didn’t fare well at the box office. When it premiered, it came in at number 2 behind High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Ouch. It was the worst opening Seth Rogen had in his career prompting Smith to go into a funk. He told the Huffington Post, “I was depressed, man. I wanted that movie to do so much better. I’m sitting there thinking ‘That’s it, that’s it, I’m gone, I’m out. The movie didn’t do well and I killed Seth Rogen’s career!”
Thankfully the movie didn’t derail or slow down Rogen or Banks’ careers. For Elizabeth Banks, she quietly moved on to bigger and better gigs. She continued her reoccurring role on the classic comedy series Scrubs, found some time on the series 30 Rock, while also appearing in features such as W., The Uninvited, Our Idiot Brother, and Man on a Ledge. She also appeared in the Hunger Games franchise as well as the Pitch Perfect trilogy.
Elizabeth Banks doesn’t just spend her time in front of the camera. She has found time behind it, directing such movies as Pitch Perfect 2, the Charlie’s Angels reboot, and she is scheduled next to be behind the camera for The Greater Good. She will also be back acting in two films, Call Jane and Signal Hill. She is also attached to an adult-oriented reboot of the classic Flintstones cartoon, titled Bedrock.
Catch Elizabeth Banks, as well as Seth Rogen, in Zack and Miri Make A Porno on Netflix.