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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.25%
Worth A Look: 40.63%
Just Average50%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 3.13%

4 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Smiley Face
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by Erik Childress

"I Don’t Wanna Sleep...I Just Wanna Keep On Lovin’ Anna Faris!"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2007 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Pot humor is quickly creeping up the backs of farts, spit takes and pratfalls as the cheapest form of guffaw-inducing hilarity by writers. I’m so tired of the word “weed” that I can’t even describe to my landscapers why my tomatoes won’t grow. The same thing could be said about my experiences with Gregg Araki projects. Often a weed in the occasional garden of independent cinema, Araki’s films have often been less chore and more torture weaving through the daily lives of disaffected teens and their nihilistic tendencies towards drugs, sex and violence. I could have seriously gone the rest of my life without ever subjecting myself to another Araki film or pot comedy. And yet I found myself laughing heartily and often during Smiley Face, which can be easily summarized as the female answer to Harold & Kumar’s White Castle run. But it’s the female in the middle of that sentence that’s the key and her name is Anna Faris.

She stars as Jane F., an aspiring actress who casually begins her day with the wake-and-bake. Lost in her own haze, it takes notes left around the apartment by her frighteningly intense gamer roommate (Danny Masterson) to remind her how to conduct her day. Two things she knows this day: (1) she has an audition and (2) she must pay the electric bill or risk disconnection. Why the roommate would trust such a vital task to this career stoner is something you just have to go with. Hell, he left another note not to eat those cupcakes in the fridge for his convention buddies, but she goes about doing it anyway. Soon enough its not her original bong kicking in that she feels, but the additional pot baked into the frosty confections. And her adventure begins…

With barely enough motor functions to lay out her daily planner for the day, Jane must find a way to buy some more pot, bake more cupcakes and go to her audition. Except she owes her drug dealer (Adam Brody) so now she has to find an ATM. She needs a ride and must bum one from her roomie’s bud (John Krasinski) who has been in love with her despite never having seen her in a lucid state. And we’re just scratching the surface. Each scene becomes a new vignette for Jane to screw-up, overreact, build her paranoia and introduce a new quandary until a baker’s dozen is the least of her problems.

Trying to shoehorn Smiley Face into some modern day After Hours is a bit overblown for its own good. There’s no confusing a slacker romp with Scorsese and upping its ante to make such a comparison is not going to win over anyone. What will though is the performance of Anna Faris, without whom this film may have been dead on arrival. Faris began showing off her comic chops in the Scary Movie series (which she has honorably remained loyal to through four incarnations.) Her unsubtle sexuality in May and dead-on portrayal of a flippant celebrity in Lost in Translation provided further proof that Faris could steal any scene she’s in. And even in a little seen film like Southern Belles and particularly her nutty turn as a pop diva in Just Friends, Faris has proven that she is without question one of the top comic actresses working today. Can you think of another you would be willing to follow around stoned for 80 straight minutes? This is a full-force, all-purpose performance by Faris, getting to mug, fantasize different affectations to her predicament and physicalize her cautious indiscretions with the kind of grace that would get winks from the likes of silent screen greats.

While Faris certainly commands every moment, Smiley Face gets great mileage out of many of its supporting players including Jane Lynch, Michael Hitchcock, Marion Ross, and John “Harold” Cho himself amongst others. Masterson gets to play out one of R. Lee Ermey’s famous Full Metal Jacket threats (perhaps one too many times) and Krasinski, currently the new king of unrequited love, makes Jim on The Office look like a hellcat by comparison with his hilariously subdued turn. But much like the REO Speedwagon song which gets replayed three times during the film, Smiley Face begins to wear out its welcome after about an hour. It’s energy just can’t maintain the fluent pace established by the earlier set pieces. This is certainly the sweetest of Araki’s pictures, which is like giving his audience a big Godiva chocolate after several chomps on a car battery. In due tribute to the Speedwagon though, Araki couldn’t have chosen a more perfect song though. First introduced through the mind of Krasinski’s lovelorn chauffeur, “Keep On Lovin’ You” begins as a joke for the character of Jane, but by the closing credits it’s an unadorned tribute to Anna Faris herself that we can’t help but want to serenade her with.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15640&reviewer=198
originally posted: 01/31/07 10:42:29
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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

6/23/12 Josie Cotton is a goddess I may not see this again, but it's a fun little movie 3 stars
1/08/09 Mercedes the type of movie i'd watch when i'm really depressed and feeling bad about myself. :] 3 stars
8/25/08 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
10/20/07 William Goss Pretty as hell and paranoid as fuck, Anna Faris owns otherwise slight stoner comedy. 3 stars
10/07/07 shania rocks very funny 4 stars
3/22/07 Glenn W If you like stoner films - lots of laughs, but forgettable 3 stars
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  16-Nov-2007 (R)
  DVD: 08-Jan-2008



Directed by
  Gregg Araki

Written by
  Dylan Haggerty

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

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