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9.12.08

Smiley Face (2007)





Director:Gregg Araki
Starring: Anna Faris, Danny Masterson, John Krasinski, Adam Brody
Running time: 88 minutes
Released by First Look Pictures




Grating. If I had to condense "Smiley Face" down to a single word, that's the word I would choose. This half-baked (hehe..get it?) attempt at creating a stoner chick flick fails miserably and quickly becomes an irritating mess that no amount of drugs could render enjoyable.

The plot  revolves around the misadventures of Jane F. (Anna Faris), a part-time actress and full-time stoner, who mistakenly eats a batch of pot-laced cupcakes belonging to her creepy roomate (That 70's Show's Danny Masterson). Realizing the terrible mistake she has made, Faris vows to replace her roomies stash, even though the electric bill is due and she has an audition to be at. She comes up with a  poorly devised plan to deal with all of her troubles simultaneously, and in wacky comedy style, ends up in even deeper trouble than she was in originally. Before it's over, she tries to sell pot to an old lady, steals the original manuscript pf the Communist Manifesto, stows away on a sausage truck, sees Carrot Top, and ends up on a ferris wheel.

Faris operates on three modes in this film: panic attack, intense confusion, and wistful euphoria. She cycles between these states through the course of "Smiley Face", sometimes hitting all three within a minutes time or less. It's exhausting - and about as far from funny as you can get. You can't blame her, though. For some reason, director Gregg Araki decided that his lead actress should spend ninety minutes of screen time acting as if she had consumed a massive amount of PCP or some equally mind-ripping chemical, rather than the fairly innocuous tray of pot cupcakes the character gobbles up at the beginning of the film.

Araki, who is known for dark, gay-oriented melodramas where he tries too hard to shock, switches to lighthearted comedy, where he tries too hard to elicit laughter. Working from a script that is about as discombobulated and scattershot as you can possibly get, Araki proves that he he can play comedy in only one style: broad. That would be okay if the film had any gags that actually worked - for the most part "Smiley Face" relies on the performance of Anna Faris and a slew of cameos to distract the viewer away from the fact that most of the jokes aren't very funny. It's shrill, tedious, very annoying, and about forty-five minutes too long. Gregg Araki proves that no matter what genre he is working in, his sensibility is only tolerable in small doses.

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