Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Smiley Face" (2007) - Movie Review

Gregg Araki’s “Smiley Face” is a glorified cacophony of an desperate attempt to create an eventful crazy day in the life of a stoner Jane F (Anna Faris). Jane is at the top of a Ferris Wheel talking to herself through a celebrity voice of Roscoe Lee Browne (I knew about him only through this film). Of course the clock is tuned back to the start of the day as Jane settles for an usual early morning. That will be to sit on the couch inhaling copious smokes of marijuana and playing a dubious video game. The stoning directs towards some munch and Jane steals the cup cakes prepared by her nerd room mate Steve (Danny Masterson). It is a weed seasoned cup cakes putting her for an ultimate spin of complete screwed up day of random silliness and chaos.

Beginning with some giggles it does not take much for its temporary charm to fly off the story. Anna Faris a comic seen in spoof films makes a wonderful stoner. She mumbles with eyes wide and lips little bit open tempting for a drool but not quite enough, to enact the perfect face of being high. With a mysterious question mark look and as a faithful pot consumer, she wavers into focussing on solving her busy day ahead. She has to pay the electricity bills her room mate has left who deserves to be treated like this. He does so because if some one is dumb enough to leave the responsibility of paying bills to a perennial pothead, he needs to go down and out to learn his lesson.

Adding to that is Jane’s acting audition. The recent consumption of the “special” cup cakes makes her to buy some more “happy greens” from a dealer (Adam Brody) who threatens to take away her sweet and luscious bed if she fails to pay back his 40$. Thus she steps outside and one after another it is a repetitive annoyance of how noise, scream and simple occurrence around Jane spooks her out on the effects of the drug.

Now we have seen the acid trips and hallucinatory obligations in films taken as a free arena for creative extension and easy laughs. And trust me it works like a charm every time despite its odd oldness. In “Smiley Face”, the comedy becomes pester and as with the characters Jane meets we begin to get boring creeps out of her. She is purely out there and in this obvious irresponsibility, we could not blame her as the drugs are taking her to a land where her limbs are taken off the brain nerves. She wobbles into the streets and paranoids in to the routines.

Then it begins to take the route of avant garde presentation of comedy in its weirdness. The characters she meet either are mindless morons or doubtful lethargic dumb people who do not notice this lady on her trip to wonderland. People trust her in giving rides to places and give her rare documents to deliver. She of course takes what she is given and rides what she is offered.

Anna Faris has been praised by many for her commitment to the role of Jane F. I do appreciate her work in this because it is tough to imagine for some one to be in that mode of unmotivated and declining character without being actually under the influence of the drugs. She is funny when the script works with her physical comedy and her facial staleness gets her through the role. But even her both in character and person does not seem to have fun.

Araki of course seems to be a director of instincts and maintains his integrity throughout his films. Thus was his previous venture “Mysterious Skin” which quite disturbs but not appeals. Here he attempts to wear the clothes of funny tone using the stoner genre into indie flick and doing a transformation into his style. It becomes painfully distorted and uneventfully placid for the chaos it boasts.

Most of the time I felt like watching a kid’s film made for adults of course with mature themes with immaturity. That is what silly comedy is, is not it? Yes indeed but there needs to be the factor of uninterrupted laughs in that evident childishness. “Smiley Face” has the flavour of stupidity but begins to take it quite seriously. Hence as the film intended to be a pot trip on its own becomes a character under influence accompanying and irritating us till the film ends with an unsympathetic note towards its audience.

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