DISNEY MAKES A PORNO, WHILE KEVIN SMITH LAYS AN EGG

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Both High School Musical 3 and Zack and Miri Make a Porno set out to corrupt our youth. The Disney film, second sequel to the 2006 cable TV and CD blockbuster, aims capitalist tripe at unsuspecting teenagers, while Kevin Smith’s extended sex skit trashes whatever is left of adult romantic innocence.
Each film is a peculiar example of Hollywood gone wrong. High School Musical at least started as a good idea: The original film was a genuinely amusing fable about American plurality and teen division. Cute, multiracial kids at an Arizona high school released their energy in sports and theater—an ingenious way to combine the adolescent impulse to move with the post-Michael Jackson dance template that has ruled mainstream pop for the past quarter-century. HSM rescued the movie-musical from Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Rent and Dreamgirls’ desecration by reviving its connection to popular music (the rousing, propulsive songs made the CD a bestseller). It revived the concept that song and dance could release otherwise inexpressible emotions. The genius part? Each

Zac Efron is ready for a play

Zac Efron is ready for a play

song advanced ideas of gender, race and economic diversity as natural and fun. Troy (Zac Efron), Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale), Chad (Corbin Bleu) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) became new-era tween stars who embodied multicultural aspiration and harmony better than the original 1950s Mouseketeers did.
Sure, it was politically correct utopianism, but is there any better example to teach children? The media slept on HSM (and its rare instance of morally intelligent, aesthetically justifiable family entertainment) until Disney decided to build a franchise and over-promoted the formulaic cable-TV sequel. A threequel was unavoidable and so was Disney’s condescension. The soundtrack and budget are amped-up but the characterizations are flattened and the social ideas muted. Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Chad and Ryan are lobotomized into career-conscious A Chorus Line clones. HSM3 is now about indoctrinating a captive audience to buy hype and follow consumerist routine. It might make millions, but it’s a betrayal.
Zack and Miri continues Kevin Smith’s betrayal of the indie ideal. This time he combines his most acclaimed strategies—the slacker workplace comedy of Clerks and the slack romantic-geek comedy of Chasing Amy—into an elongated burlesque about platonic Pittsburgh roommates Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miriam (Elizabeth Banks), old high school friends who attempt to get out of debt and restore their utilities by joining the amateur porn craze. What makes this formula “indie” is Smith’s brazen primitivism. Instead of sophistication, Zack and Miri boasts crudeness in its working-class men and women’s sex talk. Instead of revealing insecurities or gallantry, Smith flashes vulgarities. Any hip-hop fan knows this is just a new form of guardedness; but Smith satirizes the confusions of porn, neglecting the desperate need to connect that it deludes.
Brainstorming ideas, Zack says, “The porn I liked when I was a kid had clever titles.” (Invasion of the Booty Snatchers is one of the best suggestions Zack’s offered.) Thus, it’s the same fanboy idiocy that pollutes Judd Apatow’s comedy. It boasts adolescent male prerogative while remaining ignorant of intimate complexities. When a gay couple (Brandon Routh and Justin Long) quarrels in the high school reunion scene, Zack exclaims, “They argue just like us!”  But the contentious discussion of sex acts is basically vulgarisms—Smith’s usual immature jabbering. This forsakes the personal insight and private recognition indie filmmaking ought to provide while Smith plays catch-up to Superbad.
HSM3 similarly denies enlightenment to teen audiences. The gimmick of Senior Year ambitions unfolding into 42nd Street-style fantasy-musical numbers (“Night to Remember,” “I Want It All”) presents fussy, hectic set pieces but no story development. Like recent lousy movie musicals, emotions are not established— just eruptions of fake dynamism. Director-choreography Kenny Ortega devises some skillful routines (especially the “Boys Are Back” number featuring little-kid versions of Troy and Chad, and there’s Sharpay’s snooty dream sequence that subtly casts people of color as servants), but they lack dramatic foundation.
Kids can only learn bad audience habits from HSM3. A brilliant 2006 analysis on the Revelation to Revolution website described how “the desire that brings young viewers to High School Musical is rewarded with—provides access to—deeper understanding.” If they recognize Zac, Vanessa and Co. now, it’s not emotional, just brand identification. Alarmingly, the cast has outgrown its cuteness; they’re adults stuck in a commercial machine—manufactured stars, already obsolete. (Efron suggests a glam version of those round-faced Tommy Kirk-Kevin Corcoran Disney youths of the 1960s. Corbin Bleu has aged handsomely but gets left in the background. Hudgens acts sickeningly coy). The singing and dancing is professionally insincere. It’s showbizzy but not like Todd Graff’s savvy Camp; this rips-off Fame. The original’s sports- and teen-related numbers revved up an irresistible pep-rally momentum and its goodness took millions by surprise. This time Disney merely followed the money but neglected the art.
Kevin Smith would spell “art” with a capital “F.” It takes effort to remain this rank after 20 years of working in film; his cluelessness about depicting emotional tension is unacceptable after Mike Leigh and Jonathan Demme’s expert examples. When Zack and Miri hook up for the camera, presumably crossing their own threshold of snark, Smith has no means of heightening ideas, feelings or the image. Replacing a synthetic porno-beat with Blondie’s “Dreaming” lends an I-Love-the-’80s vibe (which is better than anything in Knocked Up), yet pop nostalgia is a superficial substitute for getting so little out of Banks’ big smile and Rogen’s bluster.
Smith puts his toe into the porn pool but doesn’t brave genuine revelation like John Cameron Mitchell’s superb Shortbus. While Zack and Miri obviously parallels Smith’s own piddling career endeavors, it also exposes his filmmaking inadequacies. Zack states Smith’s moral: “Sometimes we just need someone to show us something we can’t see for ourselves.” That’s a dummy’s confused definition of love, cinema and obscenity. It placates adults just as HSM3 insults children.

High School Musical 3
Directed by Kenny Ortega, Running Time: 112 min.

Zach and Miri Make a Porno
Directed by Kevin Smith, Running Time: 101 min.

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Disney Makes a Porno, While Kevin Smith Lays an Egg

Written by Armond White on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.


 

Disney Makes a Porno, While Kevin Smith Lays an Egg The vulgarities of consumerism and sex enjoy their orgy of power

 

 

BOTH HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 and Zack and Miri Make a Porno set out to corrupt our youth.The Disney film, second sequel to the 2006 cable TV and CD blockbuster, aims capitalist tripe at unsuspecting teenagers, while Kevin Smith’s extended sex skit trashes whatever is left of adult romantic innocence.

Each film is a peculiar example of Hollywood gone wrong. High School Musical at least started as a good idea:The original film was a genuinely amusing fable about American plurality and teen division.

Cute, multiracial kids at an Arizona high school released their energy in sports and theater—an ingenious way to combine the adolescent impulse to move with the post- Michael Jackson dance template that has

Zac Efron is ready for a fluffer (left), while Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks look for inspiration in Zack & Miri Make a Porno.

ruled mainstream pop for the past quartercentury.

HSM rescued the movie-musical from Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Rent and Dreamgirls’ desecration by reviving its connection to popular music (the rousing, propulsive songs made the CD a bestseller).

It revived the concept that song and dance could release otherwise inexpressible emotions.The genius part? Each

song advanced ideas of gender, race and economic diversity as natural and fun. Troy (Zac Efron), Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale), Chad (Corbin Bleu) and Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) became new-era tween stars who embodied multicultural aspiration and harmony better than the original 1950s Mouseketeers

..