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Overall Rating
3.47

Awesome: 6.25%
Worth A Look: 40.63%
Average50%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 3.13%

4 reviews, 8 user ratings


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Smiley Face
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Faris makes it worth a rental."
3 stars

Whether someone can remain stoned off her ass for the length of an entire day from a few bong hits and some pot cupcakes is debatable, but Anna Faris turns the situation into a tour de force of bliss, bafflement, and paranoia. Her character in "Smiley Face," identified only as Jane F, might just rank up there with such legendary cinematic inebriates as Dudley Moore's Arthur and Brad Pitt's Floyd in "True Romance." Faris and Jane deserve a better movie, though.

It sounds churlishly beside-the-point to complain that a stoner comedy like Smiley Face is amorphous and rambling. But what screenwriter Dylan Haggerty and director Gregg Araki (in a change of pace from his usual acid-house decadent-slacker fantasias) have forgotten about other stoner comedies is that the comedy lies in the stoners prevailing despite themselves. Cheech and Chong always achieved their goals, Jay and Silent Bob made it to Hollywood, Harold and Kumar finally tucked into their beloved White Castle burgers we enjoy these movies because the doofuses and wastoids who aren't supposed to succeed do. It's no fun when Jane F's big plan is defeated realistically by her own expiring brain cells.

A litter of complications are thrown into Jane's path. She gets high and eats her creepy roommate's cupcakes, not realizing they're full of weed. She needs more weed in order to bake more cupcakes. She gets more weed but ends up owing her dealer money. She has an acting audition to get to, she has to make it to a Venice hemp festival to repay her dealer or he'll swipe her cherished $999 bed, she has to hang out with a geek who has a crush on her so she can hit him up for cash, she somehow winds up with an original Karl Marx manuscript, she finds herself at a meat-packing plant. Early on, Jane says she majored in economics in college. Couldn't some of her former brain power be put in service of getting her out of her multiple jams?

Anna Faris is radiantly daft; she keeps the movie going all by herself (and the self-consciously hip supporting cast including Marion Ross, Danny Trejo, John Krasinski, Jane Lynch, and John Cho aren't given enough to do). I'm all in favor of an Anna Faris starring vehicle, but the other nice thing about the classic stoner movies was that they were stoner buddy movies. Couldn't Faris have been paired with another young actress maybe Emily Blunt from The Devil Wears Prada, someone of a different, prickly temperament to share her misadventures with? Jane's journey seems awfully lonely, and it doesn't end well for her. But Anna Faris is so likable, and makes Jane so dumb-ass likable, that we want to see her win. We want Jane to pull herself together and triumph on her terms. But Haggerty's script is stubbornly unimaginative, even punitive: poor Jane ends up losing everything, even her bed, and picking garbage on the side of the freeway. Smiley Face comes close to being a moralistic fable the Reefer Madness of the Aughts.

Faris is at least as funny and adorable as Katherine Heigl (who's currently being groomed as the next Sandra Bullock), so I wonder why she hasn't gotten her big break yet. Maybe she doesn't want one. Maybe she's more comfortable doing her "Scary Movie" thing every few years, and occasionally gracing films like "Lost in Translation" or "May" with her presence. She's an original, an enthusiastic sprite with funky comic timing probably she couldn't be groomed as the next Bullock or Roberts even if she wanted to be. I hope she's around for years to come, but left-handed flicks like "Smiley Face," which depends heavily on her fizzy charisma but doesn't provide her a worthy framework, aren't likely to get her where she needs to be.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15640&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/19/08 14:35:22
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2007 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/24/12 Josie Cotton is a goddess I may not see this again, but it's a fun little movie 3 stars
1/09/09 Mercedes the type of movie i'd watch when i'm really depressed and feeling bad about myself. :] 3 stars
8/26/08 Jessay Complete downgrade on Araki's part 1 stars
7/05/08 Samantha Pruitt sooo funny! Anna Faris is amazing, "that cat loves lasagna" hahaha! 5 stars
10/21/07 Lindsey Only masquerading as a dumb stoner...subversive and hilarious. 5 stars
10/21/07 William Goss Pretty as hell and paranoid as fuck, Anna Faris owns otherwise slight stoner comedy. 3 stars
10/08/07 shania rocks very funny 4 stars
3/23/07 Glenn W If you like stoner films - lots of laughs, but forgettable 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Nov-2007 (R)
  DVD: 08-Jan-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
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Directed by
  Gregg Araki

Written by
  Dylan Haggerty

Cast
  Anna Faris
  John Krasinski
  Adam Brody
  Danny Masterson
  Jane Lynch
  Michael Hitchcock
  John Cho



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