The Projector

Call Winston Wolfe: Let’s Clean Up Anna Faris’ Career

Will Leitch
The Projector

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Stefanie Keenan/WireImage.com

You can argue all you want about the importance and lasting impact of the written word, but Anna Faris' career has been, and will continue to be, defined by Tad Friend's piece in The New Yorker about her from last April. It's a smart, sympathetic and ultimately kinda sad look at the compromises Faris has had to make and the difficulties of a true talent to reach her full potential in a studio system that often doesn't know what to do with her. It also features the terrific anecdote of Bill Murray telling Sofia Coppola during the filming of "Lost In Translation," "why don't I have more scenes with her?" And yet: "What's Your Number?" tanked this weekend, and Faris, once again, is still waiting for her big hit. How's it gonna happen for her? This career needs to be cleaned up: Let's call in Winston Wolfe.

He's Winston Wolfe. He solves problems. He's here to help.

Here's how to fix your career, Ms. Faris.

1. Only work with top-tier directors. No offense to "What's Your Number?" director Mark Mylod, but you haven't exactly worked with top-tier talent your whole career. The best directors you've worked with are Ang Lee and Sofia Coppola, and they only used you in supporting roles. (There are those who would include Gregg Araki in this grouping. We would not.) Maybe it'll require taking some supporting roles for a while, but it'll be worth it: Let people who know what they're doing put you in the right places to succeed. We love Sarah Silverman as much as anybody, but Sarah Polley should be writing "Take This Waltz" roles for you, not her.

2. No more "Yogi Bear"s. Listen, we get it: Everybody needs a family-friendly hit, and it's nice to make some cash and get some exposure with minimal effort. But seriously now: We sort of forgot you were in "Yogi Bear," and we saw "Yogi Bear." There's no reason for you to even mess with stuff like this. Sure, you could become the female Brendan Fraser, but why in the world would anyone would to be that?

3. Pray Sasha Baron Cohen still has it. Your next role is in Cohen's "The Dictator," his supposed sure-fire hit that's based off a book by Saddam Hussein. You had to work hard for that part, so it better be worth it: After "What's Your Number?" you could sure benefit if this is more "Borat" than "Bruno."

4. Don't go full Apatow. The central premise of the New Yorker story was that it was difficult for women in an Apatowian age ... a premise that was sort of blown out of the water a month later by "Bridesmaids," which turned out to be the biggest hit of Judd Apatow's producing career. But that movie was still a dude movie; it was just a dude movie for girls. What was perhaps most distressing about "What's Your Number?" is how much it keeps tying you to traditional female mores and perceptions of what Women Are Supposed To Be. Screw that! You're Anna Faris, a force of nature, a Tasmanian devil of wackiness, your own person in every possible way. Stop trying to copy things that have been successful, whether it's an Apatow film or a generic rom-com. You don't work in those movies because it feels like you're faking: It feels like you're not being you. Not that "Smiley Face" was so great, but it did trust you to be you. Think "Smiley Face," but, you know, maybe a little less nuts. Just a little.

5. Maybe let the movie stuff go for a while? This is the nuclear option, but it's worth considering: If freaking Zooey Deschanel can be in a Fox sitcom, surely, it can't be that damaging to indie cred. (At least not any less damaging than "What's Your Number?") You'd be a terrific, perhaps legendary lead of a sitcom: People already constantly compare you to Lucille Ball anyway. If you aren't willing to make that leap, maybe you try an extended arc on, say, "Parks and Recreation" or something. Your husband Chris Pratt is one of the best parts of that consistently great show, and you'd make a perfect six-episode foil to Andy Dwyer's and April Ludgate's marriage. Then, if you like it, maybe you try your own show? Just suggesting? You'd be great, and hey, the movies will always be here waiting.

There you go, Ms. Faris. That should do it. Now get to it.

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