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Free Flick Fridays: Smiley Face

You have one week to watch the sublime Anna Faris as a goofy lady stoner in Gregg Araki's lark, Smiley Face.

Smiley Face

Smiley Face

Dir. Gregg Araki (2007)


Let's admit it: the stoner comedy is a genre that is perennially enjoyable in its doofy stupidity. Be it Harold and Kumar, Cheech and Chong, Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, or the stone-cold masterpiece of the bunch, The Big Lebowski, stoner comedies are united by their agreeable premises—namely, that our likeable loser protagonist has a goal, the tune-in drop-out bliss of the perfect hit of weed. It's a set-up that can lead to all sorts of comic shenanigans and hijinks. (And, if you notice, words like "doofy," "goofy," and "stoopid," are all very applicable to these films.) They also all tend to be a little bit subversive about what, exactly, the American dream is and who gets to claim it.


Smiley Face puts a nice spin on the stoner comedy by centering it around a rare bird, the female stoner. And it provides a heck of a spotlight for our own brilliant dimbulb of a Judy Holliday, Anna Faris. Faris conjures up a comic alchemy that's pretty singular in its appeal. In her short career of generally critic-proof films, she's played pretty girls who the world underestimates but Faris, the actress, doesn't. She's sincere in her daffy underdog way, and she grabs onto the little moments where you can see her characters' humanity. It's a satisfying arc to watch with a lack of wink-wink, condescension, and it's part of the reason she's a wonderful and reliable comic actress.


As Jane F., a struggling young actress, Faris is in every scene and funny throughout, whether she's mawing down cupcakes (the munchies are six minutes in) or auditioning for a bored Jane Lynch in robot voice. There's a bunch of cameos from character actor comedians and TV guys like Adam Brody and John Krasinski, but it's Faris' show all the way. LA teen angst auteur Araki seems like an awkward choice for this silly material, but, to be honest, when he's working from other people's material (like in Mysterious Skin), he seems rather energized and his visual flash makes the film seem slightly upscale. Depending on your taste for Faris and plots that sort of center around a rare copy of The Communist Manifesto (if you worked hard, you could come up with "greater meaning" for this film), Smiley Face may just be the lady stoner movie of your dreams.


Watch the film now for free on Hulu:



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