Smiley Face

Listen to Zach and Bill’s podcast review of Smiley Face at Movie Bonfire.

Anna Faris has made a career out of playing glazed-eyed overly-excitable blondes. From light fare such as the Scary Movie franchise to heavier films like Brokeback Mountain and Lost in Translation, she’s become an easily recognizable, always reliable comedienne. But even the slack-jawed antics of Anna Faris can’t save this plodding pot-padded script by actor Dylan Haggerty.

Director Gregg Araki may have made a splash with his recent Mysterious Skin, earning much warranted accolades for his moving coming-of-age drama, but this light follow-up is a significant step backward. Though it features a star-studded cast of cameos from across the spectrum and a very-stoned and stumbling Faris, there’s still something missing from the cupcake batter.

Smiley Face tells the story of Jane F. (Faris), a pot-smoking slacker actress who eats her roommates pot-filled cupcakes one day and then finds herself high beyond belief… or so we are led to believe, though it’s questionable since she tokes up again within the next few minutes. Making lists and taking action, Jane sets about replacing her roommates cupcakes, paying back her dealer, and attending an important audition. While it all sounds like a recipe for comedic brilliance, the lackluster script and mind-numbingly slow pacing manage to dull the laughs to a few shallow chuckles.

Adam Brody (The O.C.) approaches something like hilarity with his dreadlocked drug dealer persona, while Danny Masterson (That 70’s Show) gets even closer as Jane’s straight-laced sci-fi nerd roommate Steve. The rest of the cameos are hardly inspired, though it’s hard to tell whether it’s the actors or the script that comes up lacking. John Krasinski (The Office) is entirely bland as Brevin Ericson, the nerd who has fallen for our heroinne. John Cho (Harold & Kumar Go to Whitecastle) and Danny Trejo (The Devil’s Rejects) show up as truck drivers and Christopher Guest regulars Michael Hitchcock and Jane Lynch show up as an uptight laundry room patron and a casting director, respectively. Even Carrot Top manages to walk by at one point, though nary a titter is evoked from the audience.

Though an attempt is made at comedy throughout, the final product falls remarkably short of the target. Even the typical pot jokes have fallen by the wayside in this downer of a comedy. There are a few brief chuckles, such as when Adam Brody’s drug dealer implies what Jane’s roommate might do with (or to) a skull, or when Jane has a long pot-induced monologue relating President Garfield and lasagna, but otherwise the film is decidedly lacking in the laugh department. What’s most disappointing, though, is that the premise exudes such promise. Perhaps with a few rewrites by Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen this film could have been the sleeper hit of the summer. Unfortunately for everyone involved, that didn’t happen and its uneventful release to DVD in January is surprisingly deserved.

Zach’s Rating: F
Perfect For: A lazy hazy crazy day of summer… I guess
Stay Away if: You liked Half Baked and Harold and Kumar Go To Whitecastle

To purchase Smiley Face (available 1/8/08), visit Amazon
For more reviews by Zach Freeman, visit HubPages

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