Despite having starred in a series of spoofs that have together raked in over $400 million on the domestic front, it still doesn't feel like Anna Faris is quite the household name she deserves to be. All dollar signs aside, this comedienne has that endearing mix of whip-smart comic timing, goofy mugging, general hotness (what?), and a sense of self-awareness in even her ditziest roles. Time will only tell if tomorrow's release of The House Bunny will formally launch her into the ranks of, say, Reese Witherspoon after Legally Blonde, but even if she doesn't, here's at least seven reasons why she'll always be our funny bunny.
1. Cindy Campbell in Scary Movie 3 (2003)
Say what you will about this parody franchise, but it's been a minor blessing that Faris keeps coming back to ground these puppies from evaporating into pure irrelevance... although it's pure irrelevance that keeps me coming back to this one in particular. Call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but there are glorious non sequiturs a-plenty that help me cope with the slapdash plot and already dated pop culture riffs (oh, right, Simon Cowell, he's that guy...). Naturally, not the least of the credit goes to Faris, who, as the aloof reporter/single mom, is just as inept at either job as we'd like her to be.p>2. Kelly in Lost in Translation (2003)
In the same month that brought us the exceedingly goofy likes of Scary Movie 3, Sofia Coppola's low-key drama began its run towards eventual Oscar honors, and Faris reined it in -- relatively speaking -- as Kelly, a Hollywood blonde caricature that runs into her "favorite" photographer, to whom Scarlett Johansson's character is married. It's a silly role in a serious movie, territory to which she will soon return, but the levity is always welcome in the form of her.
3. Samantha James in Just Friends (2005)
Two years later, Faris would come to play the comedic extreme of her Kelly role as Samantha James, a vacant, voracious pop starlet out to terrorize Ryan Reynolds and tempt his younger brother over the course of a bumpy holiday in New Jersey. She's a sexpot with no 'off' switch, which only makes her increasingly hilarious as she proceeds to stumble and scheme through the proceedings; she gets knocked out, turned on, and ramped up, and the result is gleefully manic. While the admittedly amusing film seems to have found its ideal niche as it begins an endless run on cable, it really wouldn't be half as much worth leaving on if it weren't for wondering just what she was going to do next.
4. Lashawn Malone in Brokeback Mountain (2005)
After being paired with Ryan Reynolds in both Waiting... that October and Just Friends that November, she was inadvertently overdue to steal a scene in yet another acclaimed drama, offering up the only comic relief in the likes of Brokeback Mountain as the chatterbox wife of a business partner with whom Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway absent-mindedly dine. As with Translation, she brings it down an appropriate notch, and if only for a scene, her character supplies welcome contrast to the significantly more dramatic relationships which surround her.
5. Jane F. in Smiley Face (2007)
For all the lead roles Faris may have had and will continue to, only this to date is an example of her single-handedly carrying a comedy and being responsible for each and every laugh that comes out of it. As the perpetually high protagonist, she alone takes a flimsy narrative of pot-induced hijinks and transforms it into a curious enough, amusing enough day-long quest of unexpected obstacles worth seeing through to the end. Perhaps my favorite scene -- included in a video embedded below, along with the above four films -- has her riffing on lasagna in a way that only a character both smart and stoned could manage.
6. Polly in May (2002)
I'm sure that our Scott Weinberg has told you time and time again to check this movie out, but he's not without good reason; it's an oddly touching tale of a young loner (Angela Bettis) who proceeds to literally make a friend out of those around her -- including co-worker Polly (Faris), with whom a lesbian fling is had -- when they all shun her. Polly may not be the closest thing to a comedic role that Faris has had, but it's nice to see a change of pace, considering that May is about the farthest thing from a comedy that she's yet to star in, and she strikes the nice balance of not being a bitch and yet totally worthy of her fate.
7. Belle Scott in Southern Belles (2005)
I could talk about how Faris saves not a movie, only her scenes, in the lesser likes of Mama's Boy, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and The Hot Chick, but attention is perhaps best given to the little-seen Southern Belles, a modest rural romantic comedy in which Faris and life-long friend Laura Breckenridge find their dreams to move to that big, beautiful city of Atlanta put on hold when the latter falls for the new sheriff (and of course she does; he's played by one of those fellas from "Grey's Anatomy"). The movie is only as aw-shucks sweet as the two leads allow it, and as can be expected, Faris pulls her weight in heart and humor.