Since calling out The House Bunny yesterday for its subliminal skateploitation, I’ve been feeling remiss that I didn’t also acknowledge the movie’s saving grace, Anna Faris. (Even worse, I spelled the actress’s last name wrong). The consistent theme among House Bunny‘s reviewers is that the movie is nothing special—a post-feminist/post-Legally Blonde update of Revenge of the Nerds—but that its star is the finest American comic actress in a generation. To which Faris herself might add, duh.
If you’re aware of her at all, you likely know her from her run with the Scary Movie franchise, or possibly for her thinly veiled send-up of Cameron Diaz in Lost in Translation. But Faris earned my love with her performance as Jane, the eponymous, quasi-Marxist stoner of Gregg Araki’s little-seen classic, Smiley Face (2007). Whereas tokers Seth Rogen and James Franco embodied every cliche in the hemp grower’s book this summer in the turgid Pineapple Express, Faris knows how to do more than hang her eyelids. Her Jane is a manic mess, passing alternately through the emotional highs and the lows of getting high. Faris can make even the banal act of gulping orange juice a riot, though it’s nothing compared with the hilarity she generates when disabling a smoke alarm. Here’s one more critical voice hoping that more Hollywood producers will catch on. —Benjamin Strong