Anna Faris in Smiley Face (above) and The House Bunny (below).
I first noticed Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise in which she parodied, among other things, Neve Campbell’s role in Scream. Following that, Faris provided expert comic relief playing supporting roles in two of the most prestigious productions of the last decade, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain.
Her breakthrough role – the first indisputable proof that Faris could completely carry a comic film on her own – was as the stoner chick, Jane F, in Gregg Araki’s Smiley Face (2007). Smiley Face is a stoner comedy with integrity. It begins with the already-stoned heroine, an unemployed actress, hungrily consuming a plate of cupcakes baked by her roommate – not realizing that they are marijuana cupcakes – and then follows with the logic of inevitability her wasted path to disaster. In the scene illustrated above (top), Jane delivers a Marxist rant to a group of puzzled workers at a meat-packing plant. We get to see two versions of the scene – the speech as she imagines it herself, a heartfelt diatribe against the alienation of labor – and the speech as it is actually delivered, an incoherent babble.
Wikipedia refers to more than 40 titles in its article on stoner films. Significantly, the protagonists of most of them are pairs of young males. Smiley Face is not only funnier than most of these films* – thanks in large part to Ms. Faris – but in featuring a solo female lead, it puts a few more cracks in that glass ceiling we keep hearing about.
* It is not, of course, funnier than The Big Lebowski, which is a masterpiece any way you look at it.