Nick & Nora & Zack & Miri

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Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 10.13.15 PMSeptember 6, 2008, Toronto, Canada    Catching sixteen films in six and a half days doesn’t allow much time for reflection, analysis and review. Just keeping the damn films straight can be a challenge. Fortunately, two films at the Toronto International Film Festival lend themselves to a handy little TMN shortcut – the dual-action review.
At first glance, the similarities between “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” and “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” seem to be in name alone. One is a teenage “night of passage” story, the other an “adult” comedy about making a porn flick. But both films are ultimately simple, teen-level romantic comedies with childlike anti-heroes finding sweet, sweet love.
The lead actors, Michael Cera in “Nick & Nora” and Seth Rogan in “Zack & Miri,” are both well-chosen. Both are currently hot in the industry and both have an honest, deep-down nice-guy appeal. Both carry their films: Cera with signature nerdish, mumbled wit; Rogan with trademark comic bluster.
“Nick & Nora” builds energy and expectations early with a great soundtrack and the promise of a stellar night of outrageous adolescent adventure. But any semblance to a modern-day “American Graffiti” proved purely coincidental. Characters were cliche, plot twists predictable and the evening – well, it just wasn’t all that awesome. It was a watchable, fun flick; a great high school date movie, but not a night to remember.
Likewise, expectations were high for “Zack & Miri.” Kevin Smith is certainly capable of some wicked sharp, sub-culture amusement – and what could be more intriguing than a Smith-Rogan comedy with real porn stars that just barely avoided an NC-17 rating? If we saw a bit of that “Dogma” bite and insight slicing into the world of sexual mores, this could be exceptional.
But as is so often the case, initial arousal is no indication of intellectual or emotional satisfaction. Much of this movie is surprisingly shallow and cliché. There are a few funny scenes, but there are also moments that are cringe-worthy, like a disturbing montage of the characters mugging and dancing for the camera during a party. It is essentially a predictable, sugary love story presented with nudity, simulated sex scenes and a few mildly amusing, adolescent gross-outs. It’s a definite tease, but it won’t make you cum back for more.

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