‘Smiley Face’ Turns Into A Frown: Anna Faris Comedy Going Straight To DVD

Flick will only make one theatrical appearance, despite strong Sundance reception.

CULVER CITY, California — Eight months ago, Anna Faris’ newest film played to standing-room-only crowds at the Sundance Film Festival, prompting the star of the high-grossing “Scary Movies” series to admit she’d never heard so much laughter during a viewing of one of her flicks.

Over the summer, under-the-influence R-rated films like “Superbad” and “Knocked Up” ruled the box office, seemingly setting the stage for the next great stoner comedy. But now, those looking forward to “Smiley Face” should brace themselves for news that will leave them with a frown: What could potentially be the next great cult comedy is getting dumped onto DVD.

“It might get a small release,” the actress revealed when we caught up with her recently, barely holding out hope. “For sure, it will be out on DVD in a few months.”

At the risk of breaking the news not only to fans of R-rated comedies, but also to Faris herself, the studio holding the rights to “Smiley” has confirmed that it plans to quietly show the film in one Los Angeles theater, and then release it straight to DVD in January.

Perhaps you’re wondering why the MTV Movies team would waste its energy writing about the sort of DVD burial that happens in Hollywood every day, and you’re right to do so. The answer is a simple one: “Smiley Face” remains one of the funniest films we’ve seen in 2007, and it deserves better.

“I just love playing characters,” Faris said of her taking on the role of Jane, the first notable female cinematic stoner to follow in the proud tradition of Cheech, Chong, Rory Cochrane in “Dazed and Confused,” Brad Pitt in “True Romance,” Harold, Kumar and the “Half-Baked” gang. “I got to wear pajamas every day, which was awesome.”

The flick co-stars such fan favorites as John Krasinski, Adam Brody, Danny Masterson and Danny Trejo, and is the first straight-out comedy directed by indie darling Gregg Araki. Its irreverent plot kicks off when the clueless Jane accidentally eats an entire plate of pot cupcakes in the morning, only to realize that she still needs to complete such simple tasks as paying her bills, going to the dentist’s office and backing her car out of its parking space.

In January, “Smiley Face” seemed like a sure bet to break out Faris, who portrays Jane with an eye-opening mix of physical humor and utter lack of vanity (she spends much of the movie crawling around on bathroom floors, scarfing down munchies and wearing baggy outfits that make Krasinski’s crush on her all the more hilarious). Much like “Harold & Kumar,” “Dazed” or “Dude, Where’s My Car?,” instantly quotable catchphrases assail the viewer in rapid succession, as do offbeat scenes that are rewarded with repeat viewings.

Yet, despite recent theatrical releases for DOA duds including “Captivity,” “I Know Who Killed Me” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters” — released on 800 screens by First Look Studios, the same company that owns “Smiley” — no one is willing to take a chance on a breezily original flick that makes you laugh hard.

“You’ve gotta come with me,” Anna Faris shrugged, referring to the one-theater release. “You’ve gotta help me pack the theater.”

With a gutsier studio behind the film, and a half-decent publicity campaign promoting a major release, Faris probably wouldn’t need our help.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Smiley Face.”

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