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Movie Review: Smiley Face

By Matthew Huntley

December 6, 2007

And today, I decree: No more Scary Movies!

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Smiley Face is your better than average stoner comedy because it contains a genuinely likable heroine. It follows around a 20-something named Jane (Anna Faris) who just can't seem to lay off the bong. Jane isn't mean or obnoxious so much as dazed and confused. What makes her tolerable is her breezy disposition and light-hearted naiveté. At only 87 minutes, Smiley Face is short and sweet, but I actually left wanting to spend a little more time with its silly protagonist.

Jane aspires to be an actress and has an upcoming audition, but she first decides to get high. Craving something sweet, she eyes her roommate Steve's (Danny Masterson) cupcakes, despite a note telling her to keep her hands off. She gorges herself through the entire dozen and upon realizing what she's done, she's desperate to replace them. She's afraid of Steve because of his supposed erotic behavior with skulls, which sets up one of the movie's funniest scenes.

But her problems multiply when she figures out (or maybe we're the only ones who really figure out) the cupcakes had pot baked into them. So now Jane is even more high. It doesn't help that her dealer (Adam Brody) stops by demanding payment. If she fails to comply, he might be forced to take away her big, comfortable bed!




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So Jane organizes a to do list: 1) go to her audition; 2) bake new cupcakes; and 3) pay back her dealer. But somehow a series of misadventures prevents her from accomplishing any of them, including an unexpected trip to the dentist's office with a guy named Brevin (John Krasinski); a stop at the home of a college professor's mother (Marion Ross); and a ride in the back of a meat truck, where she's discovered by two curious delivery men (John Cho and Danny Trejo). She finally winds up atop the Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier where she speaks to the voice of Roscoe Lee Browne.

The movie is more or less a compilation of short vignettes, but they're funny and entertaining because Anna Faris is so gosh darn convincing and relishable as a pothead. In the hands of another actress, Dylan Haggerty's screenplay might have fallen apart, but luckily director Gregg Araki never instructs Faris to go for a cheap or trendy effect. Her antics all seem believable in their own context. I'm sure it's not easy playing a stoner, but Faris shows she's quite capable and keeps us with her.

Smiley Face isn't any kind of masterpiece or essential viewing, but it works because it recognizes its situations are funny and goes all the way with them. The movie is humble and down-to-earth, but also bizarre enough so that we don't always know where it's going. Everything that happens to Jane appears to happen by chance, but in a creative way. If there's one stoner comedy to see this year, Smiley Face is the one.


     


 
 

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