Thanks to the magic of Internet film piracy I finally got a chance to watch Gregg Araki's stoner comedy Smiley Face. Released over a year ago in America I had been waiting patiently for the film, which stars Anna Faris, to arrive on my shores but to no avail so I don't feel bad at all. It's their own fault that they lost my money. Personally, I feel Araki wouldn't mind in the slighest considering the way it's release was botched even in America.
Thankfully though any guilt I may have felt about the act was quickly eradicated due to the perfect storm of A-M-A-Z-I-N-G that is Anna Faris, a woman I would dare say with certainty is cinemas finest comedienne of the moment. Another fact that nobody has probably thought about is that she has appeared in more Best Picture Oscar-nominees than the likes of Hilary Swank and Reese Witherspoon, crazy huh?
However, it was her two performances this year that really made me decide to worship her for the rest of my days. First there is The House Bunny. A fairly standard college campus comedy that is elevated by Faris' utterly fearless and hysterical performance as a Playboy bunny with issues. Traipsing around in platform stilettos and miniskirt/bikini combos and sprouting dialogue like "the eyes are the nipples of the face" and "You're a bad witch. I think the house that's gonna fall on you will be a sexy house", Faris is a riot and, in all honestly, gives one of the best performances of the year.
And then there is Smiley Face. Faris, in all her mouth-breathing glory, shines in the best female performance I've seen all year. "Dying is easy, comedy is hard" the expression goes and if that really is the case then Faris must have been working overtime and extrahard because she is blisteringly funny and is blissfully aware she doesn't need to reel any of it in for mainstream consumption like in The House Bunny. She goes for broke with scene after scene featuring line deliveries and facial expressions better than the last. It's probably a testament to Faris' portrayal as the eternal pothead Jane that by the end you actually feel like the movie has morphed from a hilarious stoner comedy into a mellon collie vision of a life gone wrong. Bizarre.
Your viewing of Smiley Face will, however, depend on entirely on whether you think Faris is hilarious or not. I, clearly, fall on the side of the latter. She is such a gifted comedy performer that I really do hope she gets a role that allows her to reach a much bigger audience without the need to include the words "Scary" and "Movie" in the title. Granted, I rated her performance in the the 2000 original as "pretty damn funny" so it would appear I've always just naturally been drawn to her dim bulb routine. It's certainly funnier here than the version Adam Sandler has been trading off of for the better part of a decade and a half.
This performance really is an achievement and a half. If you have ever come across a stoned person then you will probably recognise this. And, I think, it takes somebody who has experience stoned people sober to realise how good it is. Stoned people don't think they act that way, but they do. I'm sure they've all done inner-monologues much like that of Anna - linking US Presidents to her love of lasagne and so forth - and don't know it. Too baked to remember. The funniest moment for me, however, was the moment at the elevator before her hysterical "Come on Frank! You know I love surprises!" audition. Slamming her palm all over the button before we see the look of stoned exhaustion on her face. It killed me. I literally fell off the couch laughing. I FELL OFF THE COUCH!
So, seriously folks, try and track a copy of this movie down if for no other reason than Faris' out of this world brilliant performance. Download it illegally if you must, just SEE IT. "Come on Frank! You know I love surprises!"