PARK CITY, Utah — If there is a “Napoleon Dynamite” to be found at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it may be director Gregg Araki’s “Smiley Face,” an irreverent stoner comedy that is leaving its audiences dazed and confused — with laughter.
The flick features memorable supporting work from “The Office” star John Krasinski (as a nerd), Danny Masterson (as a man suspected of having sex with skulls) and Adam Brody (as a dreadlocked drug dealer), but it is very much a showcase for Anna Faris, possibly one of the most gifted comediennes of her generation.
With the laughter still ringing in her ears from the Saturday-night premiere (the theatrical release is coming later this year), Faris came in from the Utah cold to tell us the film, her influences and just what her parents thought of this stoner flick.
MTV: You’ve been in nearly 20 movies, from “Just Friends” to the “Scary Movie” flicks, but be honest: Have you ever had a premiere that got as many laughs as “Smiley Face” did the other night?
Anna Faris: No! I was so nervous. It’s such an odd film, and I wasn’t sure how people would go along on the journey. [But] even my parents, who were sitting right beside me, enjoyed it. I was worried about them, but my dad was crying, he was laughing so hard.
MTV: One of the great things about the movie is that the plot is so simple that even a stoner could follow it.
Faris: Yeah. One day Jane wakes up at 9 a.m. and gets stoned, and then she eats her roommate’s cupcakes — which, it turns out, are also pot-laced. She has to go to her audition, make more cupcakes for her roommate, pay the electric bill, and pay back her dealer. She also wants to organize a union for meat workers and make it to a hemp fest — so she’s got a lot to do in one day.
MTV: Do you see “Smiley Face” as the next great step in the tradition of Cheech and Chong, “Half Baked” and “Harold & Kumar”?
Faris: I’ve spent way too much time analyzing it, so you might think this answer is a little out there. It is a stoner comedy about a girl who loves weed. But it’s also about a girl who’s lost and has no passion in life.
MTV: Well, she did go to college.
Faris: Oh, yeah, she graduated summa [cum laude]. [She laughs.]
MTV: That’s just one of a million catchphrases that seem likely to be memorized by everybody after this movie comes out on April 20. I also love that other stupid line that your character is constantly reinterpreting, as dramatic or ironic or whatever, when she shows up to her movie audition stoned.
Faris: “Come on, Frank, you know I love surprises!” [She laughs.] When I got the script, every line just seemed like this big apple I could take a bite out of. This dialogue is so completely funny, and original and bizarre, it was wonderful. Like that Garfield speech.
MTV: Yes, your character decides that if she hangs a picture of President Garfield on her wall, people would know she likes lasagna. Very deep.
Faris: I know!
MTV: Are fans here appreciative that, with this film, you’ve aspired to make nothing greater than a flick they can laugh at?
Faris: Yeah, there aren’t a ton of comedies up here — like maybe two — so that helps. But it fits at Sundance, because people are in a party mood here. That midnight screening definitely got a few people who had been [indulging in something] beforehand. [She laughs.]
MTV: This is a very physical role, one that demands that you get dirty at times. This might sound weird, but it dawned on me that if Lucille Ball were starting out today, this would be the kind of performance she’d give. Like her, you’re not afraid to go way out there.
Faris: Oh, thank you! I’m afraid [she laughs], but I just do it.
MTV: There are scenes where you’re ugly, but there are others where you rely on your beauty — like when Jane seduces John Cho’s delivery man while vividly describing what she wants him to do to her.
Faris: Yeah, my mother loved that one! It was good for me to grow up on the “Scary Movie”s, because Keenan Ivory Wayans, who directed the first two, forced me to take risks and do things that were out there. It felt like diving off the deep end, taking those risks without worrying about vanity. Now, I can act like an idiot and wear clothes that are really unflattering.
MTV: Did you grow up watching “I Love Lucy”?
Faris: Yeah, definitely. Lucille Ball wasn’t afraid of much at all, and she had such a lovability to her. She managed to combine brilliant physical comedy with brilliant facial reactions, and still remained someone we could all imagine as a friend. She was a huge influence on me — probably the biggest.
MTV: Your scene-stealing supporting roles have helped us endure some bad movies over the last few years, from “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” to “Waiting.” Now, you’re in every scene of “Smiley Face.” Is this finally the film that will take you to the next level?
Faris: Thank you very much! I don’t know. I’m so blown away by the reaction up here; I didn’t expect people to embrace it as much as they have.
MTV: Would you ever make a sequel?
Faris: Yeah, Jane could become a crack-smoking prostitute! [She laughs.]
MTV: Will you be posing for a spread in High Times magazine?
Faris: [She laughs.] Oh, my poor mom. What is she going to do?
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