The good stuff
A decent film from Araki, though the mix of drama and mystery isn't quite ideal. The mystery elements make it harder for the drama to be fully effective, whereas the drama isn't quite strong enough to stand on its own. While the film has enough intrigue and the characters are interesting, neither ever seems to reach their full potential.
Araki is a fine director though, so the presentation at least is nice. The use of color is strong and the camera work gives the film a certain lightness that sets the mood for the rest of the film. Visually not as notable or in your face as some of Araki's other films, but that's not really an issue considering the type of film he's making.
The soundtrack is a little inconspicuous though and the acting feels a bit forced. Woodley's performance is mediocre, Green feels a little off and Meloni is maybe a bit too obvious. It all adds up to a film that entertains, intrigues, but never really fully cashes in on its promise. Solid filler, but nothing more than that.
I'm usually not a big fan of stoner comedies, for some reason they tend to be more crass and vulgar than they are funny. But Araki's Smiley Face turns out to be a welcome exception, thanks to Faris' all-in performance and Araki's confident direction, which add plenty of laughs to an otherwise familiar concept.
Faris' adventures are pretty basic though. She's incredibly stoned and whatever she does, she fucks up pretty badly. After a series of initial misadventures she needs to go to Venice Beach to clear her debts with her dealer, which is a perfect set-up to meet some goof balls and weird characters along the way.
Araki's camera work, choice of music and writing makes the film a little weirder and quirkier than the norm. Some solid performances of the secondary cast add to the fun, but in the end this is really Faris' time to shine. Smiley Face isn't the greatest comedy ever, but it's a fun and entertaining little film.
A very strange coming of age drama, one that combines the usual partying and boozing with comedy, horror, aliens and LGBT issues. The acting is a bit flaky and the films looks a little cheap in places, but it's so lively and off-kilter that it didn't really bother me that much. Not one of Araki's better films, but definitely interesting.