Smiley Face

Rating 3½

Directed by Gregg Araki

Written by Dylan Haggerty

Starring Anna Faris, John Krasinski, Adam Brody, Danny Masterson, Jane Lynch, Marion Ross, John Cho, Natasha Williams, Michael Hitchcock, Brian Posehn and Roscoe Lee Browne

Pothead unemployed actress Jane F (Anna Faris) spends her morning getting stoned – and she then ingests her flatmate’s cup cakes, not knowing they are laced with cannabis. From this point onwards she stumbles from one surreal misadventure to another as she variously attempts to pay her dealer to stop him from taking her beloved bed in lieu of payment, pay her electricity bill to stop the power in her apartment from being cut off, attend an audition for an acting role and replace the cup cakes.

It is one thing to be in the state of being stoned; it is another to watch someone else who is stoned, which is invariably an altogether tedious affair. A film like ‘Smiley Face’ is immediately confronted with that problem. Jane F is basically just very stoned and, as such, irritatingly disengaged from the world around her. However, the film has one vitally important ingredient in its favour; Anna Faris is surely the best American film comedienne around at the moment. She has been compared to Carole Lombard, which is not an unreasonable comparison.

‘Smiley Face’ gets off to a shaky start, but it quickly becomes more engaging as it goes along and Faris gives a typically guileless performance, rescuing it from the tedium that might have befallen it. This is not a film to compare to the Coen brothers stoner classic ‘The Big Lebowski’, but equally it never succumbs to the depths of Cheech & Chong after the inspiration of their early work began to dissipate – which pretty much happened straight after their first film ‘Up in Smoke’.

Director Gregg Araki (pictured on set with Faris) is one of the leading figures of the so-called “new queer cinema” movement. His previous films include ‘Totally F***ed Up’ and ‘Mysterious Skin’.

‘Smiley Face’ did not garner the widespread acclaim of those earlier films, but thirty reviews collected at Rotten Tomatoes still resulted in a 67% fresh rating. It was screened in just one cinema in America and grossed $9,400. The overseas gross was just under $170,000.

No comments: