Smiley Face is Gregg Araki's entry into that hallowed genre of the stoner comedy, of which Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle may be the most resent minor classic (a major stoner classic seems somehow self-contradictory, doesn't it?). But Araki's take on what is really the modern update of slapstick lags in some major departments, mostly notably in briskness and anarchy, the engines of this genre. Thankfully, this being an Araki outing, it still manages a dash of weirdness and spontaneity to keep things amusingly off-kilter.
Smiley Face's stoner heroine Jane F. (Anna Faris) may be about as dull as bongwater, so a story about her had better be sharp and stepped up for it to register, and it can't even for half a beat be afraid that it's not making sense. The best slapstick flicks -- of which the stoner comedy is the modern-day update -- do not care if you get the jokes or not, or even if you like them very much (those qualities help make everything from The Three Stooges to Airplane! to the aforementioned Harold & Kumar so charming). In this regard, Araki's approach to the material is rather cautious, as the genre goes; there's a been-there-done-that whiff about this humor, and he wants to endear us to Jane and her story too insistently. Most troublesome is that Araki and screenwriter Dylan Haggerty beat a very simple premise -- that this chick is baked out of her gourd -- into the ground over and over again. The entire extent of Smiley Face's comedy rests on Faris pulling the dopey stoner face and stumbling through the scenery as she scrambles to pay off her dealer so he won't confiscate her furniture.
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