Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Craig Robinson (This Is The End)
Jason Mewes (Dogma)
Jeff Anderson (Clerks)
Traci Lords (First Wave)
Tyler Labine (Antitrust)
Tisha Campbell-Martin (House Party)
Jennifer Schwalbach Smith (Now You Know)
Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow)
Justin Long (New Girl)
Katie Morgan (Triptank)
Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are roommates who have known each other forever, so living together is purely platonic. That they haven’t done much with their lives and rely on each other to keep their home, heat and water bonds them much further than any romantic attraction could. But when their bills catch up with them, they have to figure out a way to make some money, and a chance encounter at an awful high-school reunion introduces them to an answer to their problems, they may have to complicate their situation and make a porno movie.
Sure, it’s a bit of a leap, but as Miri notes, their debts are at the point when people start having sex for money, so they gather some friends and local exhibitionists and plan out a pretty marketable idea for a porno. Of course it’s not as easy as turning on a camera and going at it, but the roadbumps the film faces are matched by the issues that arise for Zack and Miri, who thought their friendship wouldn’t be something sex could change.
With Banks playing Miri, and Rogen as Zack, the film is stacked with funny up top, but Smith’s films have always been loaded with memorable roles from top to bottom, and this movie is no different, except that his usual cast, aside from Jason Mewes and Jeff Anderson, isn’t there. Instead, the casting was influenced by Rogen, and resulted in the freshest cast Smith’s had since Mallrats. Craig Robinson (“The Office”) is brilliantly funny as Zach’s put-upon pal, in a performance that tells me he can definitely lead a film on his own, especially when he argues with his wife (an excellent cameo by Tisha Campbell.) Also fun is Ricky Mabe’s turn as wide-eyed Barry, the young actor, and porn star Katie Morgan, who plays her part with a sweetness that, combined with Mewes’ hard-edged innocence, cuts the harsher elements of the story and helps the romantic angles.
In watching this movie, it would be harder than usual to finger it as a Smith movie, at least if Mewes and Anderson weren’t involved, as it looks far more polished visually (like Jersey Girl), the dialogue is far less dense, and the characters escape the Askewniverse ghetto.