Smiley Face (Peace Arch, 2007) D: Gregg Araki, w/ Anna Faris, John Krasinski. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NN
Most stoner comedies go for harmless laughs and a happy ending. Gregg Araki has a darker vision. Think Up In Smoke meets The Lost Weekend.
Twenty-?something Jane F, a vaguely aspiring actor, gets stoned one morning and eats her roommate’s grass-?laden cupcakes, which leaves her far too fried for the day’s simple tasks: replace the cupcakes, pay the electricity bill, go to an audition and pay off her dealer. She tries anyway. Disaster ensues until she ends up atop a Ferris wheel clutching a stolen first edition of The Communist Manifesto.
Anna Faris plays Jane to the paranoid hilt. You can barely recognize the sweet space cadet of the Scary Movies inside Smiley Face’s twitching, stumbling nervous wreck. Jane is funny, particularly in her moments of blissed-?out idiocy and stoned eloquence, but the laughs have a bitter bite. Jane is also a truthful portrait of an unravelling woman.
John Krasinski does a fine job as the wonderfully named Brevin Ericson, the in-?his-?dreams love interest, and the supporting cast comes across well, with slightly over-?intense deadpan delivery.
Araki uses fantasy sequences, cheap effects and interesting lens and angle choices to pump up both the humour and that disquieting too-?ripped feeling familiar to so many of us. Whether your viewing experience leans toward laughter or fear may depend on how much and what you’ve ingested. I recommend lots.
The making-?of is one of those mutual-?admiration jobs where everybody proclaims how great everybody else is and how they love the script. It gets two Ns, not one, because nobody’s obviously lying or deluded.
EXTRAS Making-?of doc. Widescreen. English, Spanish subtitles.