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.