Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Kevin Smith
Written by: Kevin Smith (written by)
Genre: Comedy / Romance
MPAA: Rated R on appeal for strong crude sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity and pervasive language.
Released: 31 October 2008 (USA)
Starring: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Mewes, Katie Morgan, Craig Robinson, Traci Lords

Plot: Two lifelong platonic friends, strapped for cash and deep in debt, decide to make a porno as a quick way to make ends meet.

Review: 8/10

The Story is about: Lifelong platonic friends Zack and Miri look to solve their respective cash-flow problems by making an adult film together. As the cameras roll, however, the duo begins to sense that they may have more feelings for each other than they previously thought.

My Thoughts: Sex is one of life’s most natural and beautiful things, yet when expressing such in a certain manner that allows others to view it; it’s suddenly considered obscene, crude and very much wrong to the full extent. Yet as vial and controversial the topic of Pornography is: People cannot get enough of it. Love it or hate there is always someone somewhere out there talking, watching, or simply making porn. Of course it could easily be said that the reason behind this is because people always want what they are told is “Bad” for them. The thing is no one has had the guts to make porn a friendly topic to talk about in the public eye.

However that is until renown Writer-Director Kevin Smith came along with his controversially hilarious film. Zack and Miri Make a Porno. A comedy that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is when it comes to the ever so taboo topic! And the raunchy comedy is much more vulgar and cruder than any film I have seen in its genre in years, than again calling it raunchy actually makes it sound weaker than it actually is, a notch below soft-core porn would actually be more appropriate for a film like this [Laughs]. But don’t think this film is all about sex and nothing else, no sir; it does in fact have a magnificently written plot that has a great deal of heart and soul poured into, which believe me is a rare commodity to get out of viewing modern raunchy comedies such as this. Most filmmakers tend to void a good plot and fine quality writing just so they can expose more flesh than is actually needed on screen, but what Smith’s film Zack and Miri does that’s different than other films is offer up smart intellectual quality writing at its best, while at the same time maintaining a no holds bare sense of humor filled with obscenity. The pacing of the film goes quite nicely, although I do wish the film was a little longer than an hour and forty minutes, I mean I just felt the film could have gone on longer than it did because the end result leaves you wanting much more, but after knowing that the film was threatened with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA unless director Kevin Smith skimmed down some of the more explicit scenes in the film (Which comes natural with this type of genre) it was understandable why it felt a little cut short. However that was until I found out that it was skimmed down not once but twice because of the rating system, and only after Smith had it appealed was it finally given the hard R-rating it should have gotten in the first place.

But still, as much as it was cut down, it still remained as dirty and offbeat as his other memorable films, which believe me, is a pleasure indeed. This could easily be called Smith’s return to hard core comedy; it seemed that after his less crude more family friendly film Jersey Girl was realest, many loyal to his work had questioned his talent as a director and contemplated on rather or not he had gone soft on his audience after all these years of directing, I myself enjoyed the film but knew exactly what his fan base meant, smith is known for making films that are generally for an adult targeted audience, and even after he had made the long awaited sequel to his cult classic film Clerks, some had complained that the magic behind the first film was missing in the sequel Clerks II. However he returns to his roots of movie making with Zack and Miri, and much like his previous works back in the day, this too continues the tradition of offbeat, out of control and against the well comedy while presenting an important and strong message within the film. The thing that makes Zack and Miri such a great film is actually each of the individual characters Smith has, you can’t help but feel like you’re alongside them in the thick of it all, which could easily be understood, after all this film is partly based off the real life experience director Kevin Smith had while making his independent film (Clerks). Smith delivers a strong and stern message to his audience through his characters about hanging in there when life deals you a bad hand and how to deal with the S*** that life throws at you but does so in a manner that will have many crying with tears of laughter. Overall, Zack and Miri was a film that made me laugh and cry, and stayed with me days after I had seen it. It’s defiantly a film worth owning than alone seeing.

As for the acting: this film is filled with a fantastically funny and talented cast that is built of both mainstream and adult entertainment. Funny man Seth Rogen does an incredible job performing alongside the beautiful and talented Elizabeth Banks, both of which has gained mega stratum status over the last few years, it wasn’t long ago these two where at ”supportive” actor status and never getting the lead roles, but now days these two are becoming quite commodity in demand. Well they do extremely well in this, their onscreen chemistry works on such a lovely level, that you almost want these two to really end up with each other in real life. Craig Robinson who is hilarious from the hit show "The Office" offers up that offbeat sense of humor of his in this that works so nicely it’s hard not to laugh whenever he’s on screen. Jason Mewes, who has long been Kevin Smith’s partner in crime may have returned on the big screen without his buddy backing him up as his onscreen partner, shows that he can carry pull his own weight all by himself in the role “Lester” a character I truly believe no other actor on the planet could have played better than him [Laughs.] both Katie Morgan and Traci Lords does a magnificent job in this. If you don’t know who either of them is than obviously you’re ether not old enough to be watching a film like this or too much of a prude to understand the shear brilliance of having Traci Lords, one of the all time biggest and controversial adult film stars of the 1980’s work side by side with Katie Morgan, who is easily the most well known adult film stars in the business today, the idea of having the best of two eras working alongside each other is simply brilliant, and works incredibly well. Ricky Mabe does okay, but honestly I wasn’t too keen about his performance in the film. Lastly, the film has a nice set of cameos by many well known faces in Hollywood, two of which that stood out well in the film was none other than Brandon Routh and Justin Long, who play two gay porn stars, and believe me when I say their scenes may be sort and few in the film, but trust when I say they do not fail to make you laugh until you cry.

Final Say: Zack and Miri Make a Porno was an extremely enjoyable film, and it’s easily Kevin Smith’s return to what he does best at, making people laugh and cry at the cinema. While the film may have a few lows and flaws here and there, it still a worth watching film for movie buffs alike, and a must own for any true Smith fan. I highly recommend it!

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Review: I Love You, Man (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: John Hamburg
Written by: John Hamburg (screenplay) & Larry Levin (screenplay)
Genre: Comedy / Romance
MPAA: Rated R for pervasive language, including crude and sexual references.
Released: 20 March 2009 (USA)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Rashida Jones, Jason Segel, Sarah Burns, Jaime Pressly, Jon Favreau, Jane Curtin, J.K. Simmons, Andy Samberg.

Plot: Friendless Peter Klaven goes on a series of man-dates to find a Best Man for his wedding. But when his insta-bond with his new B.F.F. puts a strain on his relationship with his fiancée, can the trio learn to live happily ever after?

Review: 8/10

The Story is about: Peter Klaven is a successful real estate agent who, upon getting engaged to the woman of his dreams, Zooey, discovers, to his dismay and chagrin, that he has no male friend close enough to serve as his Best Man. Peter immediately sets out to rectify the situation, embarking on a series of bizarre and awkward "man-dates," before meeting Sydney Fife, a charming, opinionated man with whom he instantly bonds. But the closer the two men get, the more Peter's relationship with Zooey suffers, ultimately forcing him to choose between his fiancée and his new found "bro," in a story that comically explores what it truly means to be a "friend."

My Thoughts: When we’re young, we are taught that when making new friends with other kids, we simply walking up to one and another and say “Hi want to be friends?” As children boys make lots of friends growing up, some of whom will end up sticking around long enough to become best friends later on as adults.

As an adult some men will make friends through other sources other than the childhood school yard, such as the work place, and meeting new friends through other friends. You could say that there ‘s an un-official guide to making friends when you look at it from a different stand point, however there is one question this un-heard of yet commonly used guide has yet to have answers for us. If a man is in his 30’s and have never had any real guy friends, how does he go about making real legitimate guy friends in today’s day and age? I was extremely stumped with trying to figure out the answer to this question after watching the film I Love You, Man. A romantic comedy about bromancing, for those who don’t know the term of bromancing, bromance is the term used when two straight men shear a none sexual love and affection for each other (Information found via Wikipedia.) Call me old fashion, but I personally don’t care to use any word that combines the word “Bro” and “Mance” together as one word, perhaps it’s my inability to evolve into a more modern age man, but I prefer to use the term “Friendship” when referring to a friend. Anyway despite what I just said, the meaning of bromancing works extremely well for the film as it does present some of the most awkward of scenes between the main characters that sprout into some very hilarious moments that had me surprisingly laughing aloud. What really makes the concept so hilarious is the fact that: in all honesty this is a subject many guys probably will never encounter in their lifetime, and before going further, let me point out that there is a big difference between making a friend and making a best friend, and that one shouldn’t be confused with the other.

So the film jumps right into the concept of how a man in his mid-30’s who is getting married to the woman he loves and is happy having her as the closest thing he has to a friend, only to suddenly feel the need to makes a best guy friend before after over hearing his wife’s girlfriends talking about how awkward and utterly humiliated the wedding will be if he doesn’t have a best man, the message the film gives is it’s not as simple for grown men to makes friends as easily as one would like, because as evolved as man have become, we are very much still in that stone age sense of not being able to move past our common fears and experiencing the awkward feeling of rejection and making a fool of one’s self in front of their fellow man. The film is a very comedic and yet sometimes honest take on the horrid subject that is incredibly hilarious and touching, and will have moviegoers feeling good afterwards. The only problems I had was a few problems. The first being the fact that the film’s main plot is surrounded by awkward style humor which believe me I have no problem with at all because it does work nicely, however it does take its toll at times and some of the scenes can get a little over done to that point where you just feel bad for the characters rather than laughing your butt off at the scene. The film’s pacing does move a little slow at first which does drag on a little bit which unless you believe that patience is a virtue you might have some problems waiting before the main plot picks up, however it does make up for itself when the potty mouthed humor begins with the main plot. The only other problem I had was regarding the choices made on a couple of cast members in the film, which I’ll get into in just a bit don’t you worry, but know beforehand that this negative part is easily forgiven by me after the fact awesome legendry rock back RUSH is not only mentioned and their music played throughout the film’s course, but they themselves make a nice cameo performance in it.

As for the acting: the acting is pretty solid, with the exception of a few bad apples. Paul Rudd is a fairly decent actor with an adequate résumé of past films, however I do find it sad to see that as an actor he is stuck in a cul-de-sac or a safety-net if you will of ‘safe films’, it seems that he only does comedies in today’s day and age which is a bit disappointing because I remember it wasn’t too long ago when he was a young and up and coming actor that was starring or co-starring in film of different genres, but now only seems to stick to the funny films and nothing more. However he does in fact do pretty well for himself in this film with his awkward sense of humor which works nicely, though I will recommend he at least try to explore a much broader horizon in the future or otherwise he may end up becoming a one trick pony. Rashida Jones gave a very enjoyable and entertaining performance, her ability to give a pleasing performance comes from the fact she is a lovely blend of sexy and humorous, she can make you laugh and look naturally attractive on screen without having to wear a pound and a half of makeup just to look half as good, which is a pleasantly rare commodity to have. Funny man Jason Segel from T.V’s "How I Met Your Mother" and from last year’s box office hit “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” gave a rather un-entertaining performance in the film, and it’s partly due to his inability to show more aggression in character, it’s nothing personal, I have nothing against the guy, he did after all do incredibly well in FSM with his style of comedy, but sadly his acting came off rather lazy in this time around with a performance that is so laid back that you hard notice any effort what-so-ever from his part. The rest of the cast did fairly well, from well known names like: Jon Favreau, Jane Curtin, J.K. Simmons, and Jaime Pressly just to name a few, all did fantastic jobs in their roles, the only one I didn’t quite a agree with was actor Andy Samberg, don’t get me wrong, the man is a hilarious comedian, but an actor he is not! Trust me when I say: I got as much enjoyment out of his performance in this film as I did with his 2007 lackluster film “Hot Rod”.

Final Say: I Love You, Man is a cleverly witty and let loose fun comedy that will have you laughing you butt off, and despite its flows it makes up greatly for itself as a great laid back and let loose film that fits perfectly as a date night film for couples looking to spend the night indoors on the couch, and a damn good time for your average moviegoer. I highly recommend it!

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved