Lovers Lane (1999)
After brief screen stints in 1991 TV movie Deception: A Mother’s Secret and 1996’s drama Eden , Faris finds a role she can really sink her teeth into with Lovers Lane . She plays Jannelle Bay, who falls prey to a Valentine’s Day killer with a steel hook. More worryingly, isn’t there a missing apostrophe in that title?
On the home front, Faris met her ex-husband, Ben Idra, while filming Lane . They married years later in 2004, but divorced after four years citing irreconcilable differences..
Drama Potential? Faris is best known for her comedy chops, and she shines here as a snarky high schooler. The drama goes on around her.
Scary Movie (2000)
Somewhat poetically, considering she made her movie debut in a straight-and-narrow slasher, Faris hit the payload with this Scream parody. She played final girl Cindy Campbell, and dyed her blonde locks dark to look more like Scream ’s Neve Campbell.
Lampooning everything from The Matrix to Budweiser TV ads, Scary Movie was a massive box office hit (it even eclipsed Scream ’s big run with a gross of $278m), but the critics savaged it. And rightfully so – despite a handful of decent gags, Scary Movie is painfully low on original ideas.
Dramatic Potential? Faris plays it straight, and is all the funnier for it.
Scary Movie 2 (2001)
After Scary Movie was a massive hit with the accountants, Dimension Films fast-tracked a sequel. It debuted exactly a year after the first movie (that’s some quick work) and went on to make $141m in box office ker-chings.
Faris reprised her role as Cindy, this time laying the smackdown on haunted house horrors, with gags including a butler with a withered hand and a filthy-mouthed parrot. Yeah, the critics hated it.
Dramatic Potential? Faris delivers more of the same, proving she can get laughs even when the materials as weak as this.
Faris gives her cheek a rest from her tongue as she takes on a spoof-free horror, which follows the titular May. A young woman traumatised by a disturbing childhood, she struggles to fit in with the rest of the world.
Faris pitches up as May’s lesbian colleague Polly, who makes none-too-subtle advances on her co-worker while simultaneously teasing her for being so strange. When May finds Polly with another girl, she kills her cat in a fit of rage. Oh dear...
Dramatic Potential? Faris reigns in the funny, turning it into snark, and shows she’s up for anything - yes, even a little girl-snogging.
The Hot Chick (2002)
And it’s back to comedy, Faris fishing out her funny bones again in this Rob Schneider body-switching tickler. Except it wasn’t celebrated so much as a tickler as an unfunny waste of celluloid.
Faris plays April, the girly friend of Rachel McAdams’ Jessica, who swaps bodies with Schneider’s small-time criminal Clive. The film barely scraped its budget back at the box office, while the best praise critic Richard Roeper could come up with was “it’s in colour... and mostly in focus”.
Dramatic Potential? No ponderous pauses or breathy pontificating here, Faris sticking to the comedy.
Winter Break (2003)
Surfing along on the popularity of the American Pie series, this teens-gone-wild comedy follows four guys who “turn their backs on the rat race” for a trip to Aspen. There, they want to figure out what they’re going to do with their lives. While getting absolutely rat-arsed. For a whole year.
To be honest, Faris barely features (and that’s probably a good thing, she can forget it’s on the CV). She’s still got the dark locks, though, which makes for a change.
Dramatic Potential? Who needs drama when you can have comedy?
Lost In Translation (2003)
Now this is more like it. Faris proves that she’s more than just a funny face, drawing on her background in dramatic theatre to ground a fun performance in an indie deep-thinker. She’s the sunniest thing in the whole movie, playing an actress who visits Tokyo in order to promote her new action movie.
While Faris is still doing the cute dumb girl thing (rumour has it this role was based on Cameron Diaz), here she does it with a knowing twinkle in her eye. There’s also a great moment where she sings in the hotel bar. Top stuff.
Dramatic Potential? Absolutely. Faris finally shows us what she’s capable of.
Faris follows up her guest stint on King Of The Hill with a hilarious appearance in the final season of Friends . Taking her dumb blonde act to new hilarious depths, she plays Erica, who’s up the duff and wants to find a couple to adopt her baby. Naturally, she chooses Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry).
Guesting in five episodes, Faris gets big laughs – not least in the scene where she gives birth, unaware that she’s actually having twins.
Dramatic Potential? Faris perfectly balances the comedy with the drama.
Spelling Bee (2004)
Faris teams up with Charlie Sheen for this 15 minute short, which effectively lampoons National Spelling Bee Championships. She is commentator Jane Connelly, while Sheen, naturally, appears as himself (a “spelling enthusiast”).
Keeping it straight-faced, Faris trades jokes with Sheen as the Sultan of Spell and Queen Bee battle it out for the top prize. “Talk about star quality,” she moons over one particularly tall contestant. Watch the entire short here .
Dramatic Potential? The emphasis here is more on deadpan delivery than all-out dramatics.
Scary Movie 3 (2003)
After the high point of Lost In Translation , Faris’ career hits a new low with the third instalment (emphasis on ‘stall’) in the Scary Movie franchise. Back as Cindy Campbell, Faris parodies The Ring and Signs .
Even she admits she’s sort of stuck, saying the Scary Movies have “given me a career but they've also sort of boxed me in. What really surprised me when I first moved here is that the industry thought of actors as either comedic or dramatic. And I'm still confused.”
Dramatic Potential? Not even a glimmer of it here.
Southern Belles (2005)
Despite her burgeoning profile, Faris shows she’s not above small Indie films with this little drama. Made for a pittance (just $500,000), she stars as Belle Scott, who lives in a trailer park with her best friend Bell Granger.
Tired of their boring lives, the two girls decide it’s time for a shake up, and head to Atlanta to make their dreams come true. Though it attempts to do something different, Belles too often falls back on cliché.
Dramatic Potential? Definitely, Faris shows she can hold her own in an intimate drama. And a santa hat.
The directorial debut of Rob McKittrick, Waiting gets behind the counter of a restaurant and follows the lives of the people who work there.
Among them are waitress Serena (Faris) and Dean (Justin Long), the latter having been a waiter for four years after high school but churning in directionless hell. Instead of going for witty observations, however, McKittrick plumbs for gross-out – and the film suffers for it.
Dramatic Potential? Faris has a go, but she’s saddled with soggy material. Nice eye make-up, though.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Things get back on track as Faris lands another role in the same classy vein as Lost In Translation . She’s the chatty Lashawn (who, according to hubby Randall, “talks a blue streak”), one half of a couple who Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Lureen (Anne Hathaway) befriend.
“He wouldn't listen to me if he was going deaf tomorrow,” she dryly retorts of her other half. It’s a wry, reigned in performance deserving of kudos.
Dramatic Potential? Though she’s still doing comedy, Faris finds ways to sketch Lashawn as more than just another dumb blonde.
Just Friends (2005)
“I was never the class clown or anything like that,” Faris insists, even though she’s now best known for comedies like Just Friends . “When I was growing up and doing theatre in Seattle, I was always doing very dramatic work. Now I can't get a dramatic role to save my life!”
Perhaps if she avoided drivel like this, she’d fare better with the drama crowd. Here, Faris teams up with Ryan Reynolds for a second time (after Waiting ) as burgeoning pop singer Samantha James. The film’s cripplingly unfunny, and not worthy of Faris’ talents.
Dramatic Potential? Not a jot.
Scary Movie 4 (2006)
Faris returns to the franchise that she just can’t say no to, still playing Cindy Campbell, this time in a seriously low-on-ideas fourquel that makes a mockery out of J-Horror, King Kong and Saw (not to mention its cast).
Is Faris finally done with the scary movies? “After Scary Movie 3 , I was like, ‘No I'm done,’ but then I had so much fun making [Scary Movie 4] that I think that I would [do another],” she says. “I would definitely be open to doing it.”
Dramatic Potential? Seriously?
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)
This probably sounded fantastic on paper – Uma Thurman plays Hannah Lewis, a closet superhero called G-Girl. With Ivan Ghostbusters Reitman directing from a script by Simpsons scribe Don Payne, what could possible go wrong?
Sadly, Super Ex is completely abysmal. Not least when Faris’ Hannah is transformed into a superhero during the film’s final act, and the actress suffers through the indignity of a horror wig and seriously dodgy CGI. Painfully bad.
Dramatic Potential? Faris doesn’t have a chance here.
Smiley Face (2007)
Faris fares better with this stoner comedy from Gregg Araki, playing young Jane F., who goes on a series of misadventures after consuming cannabis-laced cupcakes.
It’s a typically zany film from the director of The Doom Generation (and the upcoming Kaboom ), with Danny Trejo, Adam Brody and Jayma Mays all stopping by for an appearance. The New York Times commended Faris for her “freakishly committed performance”. Which we assume means she makes for a convincing stoner.
Dramatic Potential? Faris gets to break out here with a wacky role in a wacky movie. It’s about time.
It’s back to TV for Faris, who lands a recurring role in this celebrated Tinseltown comedy. Getting all meta on us (or something), Faris plays herself. “That was really tricky, because it wasn't a crazy enough character to clearly not be me. But it wasn't me,” Faris recalls.
Anna meets Eric after their cars collide, and he thinks that he’s shared “a little moment” with her. Soon Eric’s her agent, and bogged down under the weight of her demands.
Dramatic Potential? Totally, Faris embracing the chance to play a different version of herself. Or something.
Mamas Boy (2007)
More low budget fare trundled along with this limited release comedy, which was made for just $618,000 by a director who’s yet to make anything else (Tim Hamilton).
It’s essentially Cyrus before Cyrus was made. Jod Heder plays 29-year-old Jeffrey, who still lives with his mother (Diane Keaton). But things get turned upside down when mom starts dating a motivational speaker (Jeff Daniels). Which is where Faris’ singer-songwriter Nora comes in, who likes Jeffrey even though he’s a total loser.
Dramatic Potential? Sadly the spotlight belongs completely to Heder.
The House Bunny (2008)
Faris buys herself a business suit and starts making her own movies, producing (alongside Adam Sandler) this light-hearted romp following a Playboy bunny who’s kicked unceremoniously out of Hef’s bed.
Emma Stone makes an appearance as a nerdy (yeah right) sorority girl who takes the bunny in. Together, they learn how they can change their lives for the better. Faris is perky as Shelley Darlington, but the film’s nothing more than forgettable, inoffensive fluff.
Dramatic Potential? None to be found here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009)
Afforded a succession of different wigs, Faris cameos as a glamorous girl from the future in this low-budget British film. Her character, Cassie, sets the film’s plot in motion as two social outcasts debate the conundrum of time travel.
The film was received well by critics as a quirky thrillride, even though it failed to set the box office alight. Director Gareth Carrivick sadly died the year after the film was released.
Dramatic Potential? It’s all about the comedy again.
Observe And Report (2009)
Faris co-stars with Seth Rogen in this devilish dark comedy, which follows the ins and outs of the Forest Ridge Mall. Faris plays Brandi, a make-up counter worker who mall cop Ronald (Rogen) has a giant crush on.
Delving into the darker side of comedy, Observe And Report finds Faris involved in a controversial date rape scene (some called it outrageous, others outrageously funny). Needless to say, the film split audiences right down the middle.
Dramatic Potential? Faris gets to do a fair amount of crying, while the funny stuff is more risqué than usual.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009)
Faris does her first voiceover work for this CGI family comedy, in which Flint (Bill Hader) invents a device that turns water into food (hence the title).
Faris plays Sam Sparks, an intern who was hoping for a chance to report the weather – a chance that is ruined by the unleashing of Flint’s invention. The film turned into a massive hit, taking $243m at the box office, and was applauded for its 3D effects.
Dramatic Potential? Away from all the adult gross-out humour, Faris puts in a nice turn that is equal parts comedic and dramatic.
Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009)
More voice work came along in the pint-sized form of this furry follow-up. Faris is chipmunk Jeanette, a member of a singing group called the Chipettes (along with Christina Applegate’s Brittany and Amy Poehler’s Eleanor).
They’re used by JETT Records chief Ian Hawke (David Cross) to get revenge on the Chipmunks. The sequel, or squeakquel, made an astounding $443m at the box office, which may account for Faris’ next film...
Dramatic Potential? Maybe in the unseen director’s cut, eh?
Yogi Bear (2010)
Sticking with the kiddie fare, Faris plays one of the few humans in Jellystone Park – the home of CGI bears Yogi and Boo Boo. With Jellystone Park targeted for closure by evil Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly), documentary-maker Rachel (Faris) decides to help the bears save the park.
While the film was another money-spinner, it failed to inspire kind words from the critics. The film currently rests at just 13% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Considering all the money it took, we’re sure a sequel’s being prepped right now.
Dramatic Potential? Acting against CGI bears doesn’t exactly call for Oscar-winning dramatics, to be honest.
Take Me Home Tonight (2011)
Faris returns to the arena she knows best – comedy – with this ‘80s-set throwback to John Hughes movies. As Wendy, she’s the twin of Topher Grace’s MIT graduate, who has no idea what he’s going to do with his life. The film’s out today.
Next up, Faris is the main attraction in rom-com What’s Your Number? , with an impressive string of A-list suitors that include Chris Evans, Zachary Quinto, Martin Freeman and Anthony Mackie. She’s currently filming The Dictator with Sacha Baron Cohen. And then there’s those persistent rumours about a role in Ghostbusters III. ..