Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not even Anna Faris can brighten unfunny "Smiley Face"


Smiley Face (2007) 
88 min., rated R.
Grade: C -

Anna Faris gets her first vehicle in the loopy, rolling-paper-thin stoner comedy, "Smiley Face," indie filmmaker Gregg Araki's "straightest" feature to date. In what's basically a 5-minute sketch padded to feature length, we follow the random, ridiculous misadventures of Jane (Anna Faris), an ambition-free L.A. loser with a fondness for smoking marijuana who goes on to have a busy day ahead of her. That morning, after mistakenly eating her roommate's pot-laced cupcakes, Jane rushes to an acting audition, has to pay her electric bill, and pay off her dealer. Along the way, she finds herself running from the cops...and going to a sausage factory with a copy of “The Communist Manifesto” and passing herself off as a union worker (don't ask). As Roscoe Lee Browne's voice-over says, Jane goes from A to Z. 

"Smiley Face" is a total lark, sure, but any way you slice it, it ain't funny. It's just limp and might get you laughing if you're baked (but it's not encouraged). The giggly Faris is a game, daftly inventive comedian and keeps the silly material going. She brightens a few moments (i.e. her senseless monologue about liking lasagna like Garfield), but you won't really care if Jane succeeds or not, and it all depends on your easily amused tolerance for pothead slapstick. 

TV's “That '70s Show” co-star Danny Masterson is ideally cast as Jane's creepy sci-fi geek roommate. The rest of the highly capable cast is left up the stream without a paddle: Adam Brody has less to do than sport dreadlocks and tattoos as Faris' dealer, John Krasinski isn't given much to do likewise, and everyone else is just there, including Jane Lynch, Marion Ross, Danny Trejo, and John Cho. 

Araki's colorful visual touches and Faris's space-cadet act should put a smile on your face here and there, but "Smiley Face" goes up in a puff of smoke. 

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