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  Smiley Face

Starring: Anna Faris, John Krasinski, John Cho, Jayne Lynch, Danny Masterson

Directed by: Gregg Araki

Produced by: Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Henry Winterstern, Kevin Turen, Steve Golin, Gregg Araki

Written by: Dylan Haggerty

Distributor: First Look Pictures


As seen at AFI Fest 2007:


     “I’m not sure what it says about us that we’re showing this movie at 12:15 in the afternoon, but I know what it says about you,” an AFI Fest 2007-programmer addressed the audience when introducing Smiley Face. I’m sure that he thought the line sounded witty, but as I reflect upon it, I realize that it didn’t make any sense at all. Just what did it say about us audience members that we showed up to the screening?

     Did the programmer mean to imply that we were diehard fans of director Gregg Araki’s work and that we were interested to see him take on a much more farcical subject than he is used to tackling? I doubt it. Was he accusing us of being junkies who endured the inhumanity of waking up before Noon because of our devotion to the cause of stoner-comedy? Given that the movie screened the night before at 9:45 for said stoners (who were, unquestionably, still in bed as we watched it) and nearly all of us were visibly critics, the programmer couldn’t have assumed this to be the case. As a result, I must assume that he simply wanted to make the movie sound cooler and more provocative than it really is. Unfortunately for him, Smiley Face is so utterly mediocre that no amount of dizzying verbal explanation will ever justify the festival programming team’s insipid choice to include it in the 2007 line-up.

     Many of the Smiley Face's fans will probably send me hate e-mails accusing me of being an elitist who carries a predisposition against Stoner-Comedy, the genre to which the film belongs. This, of course, will only go to show that they grossly misunderstand my criticisms of the picture. I do not object to stoner-comedies in and of themselves—although I would be hard-pressed to name one that I liked—but I do object to boring, conventional movies in general. Smiley Face does nothing remarkable for the genre and is rarely clever enough to be considered funny. Araki merely hopes that stoners themselves will be the only ones watching the movie and will laugh at the fact that (har de har har) the protagonist is, like them, under the influence of marijuana.

     For me to describe Smiley Face’s plot would be to reap potential viewers of any joy that the movie might bring them. The only amusement to be found in the film exists in its narrative twists and turns; its delivery is entirely one-note and comes across as such after the first ten minutes. I will say, however, that the action begins with amateur-actress stoner Jane (Anna Farris) accidentally eating her roommate’s pot-cupcakes and ends with her imperiling herself in one of the cars of a Venice Beach Ferris Wheel. In between these “critical” plot-points, John Krasinski and Adam Brody make appearances that are more creepy than funny as Jane’s roommate’s horny friend and Jane’s incompetent drug dealer.

     There are a few laughs to be found in Smiley Face, most of which derive themselves from the nuances of Farris’ all-too-real performance (was she actually under-the-influence when filming?), but they are few and far between. For the most part, the movie fails to prove more inspired than the average made-for-cable release covering the same subject-matter. Perhaps the only thing unique about the film is the way that it depicts drug-addiction: despite making fun of the cannabis-consumption of its characters, it never glamorizes this to the extent of other stoner-comedies. Araki, quite competently, shows the downside of Jane’s recreational use of marijuana. How unfortunate that he crafts a thoroughly uninteresting picture for this statement to be a part of. Almost any way you look at it, Smiley Face is an unexciting example of cinematic dullsville.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 11.30.2007

Screened on: 11.11.2007 at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, CA.


Smiley Face is rated R and runs 85 minutes.

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