The House Bunny
The latest lowbrow comedy has its few moments, but it is mostly a wasteful, wearily predictable comedy.
Anna Faris as a former Playboy bunny who winds up the house mother to a college sorority house? Who would have thunk it? When her long-time dream of becoming "Miss November" is shattered, ditzy blonde bombshell Shelley (Faris) strikes out on her own and winds up at the doorstep of the Zeta house, a college sorority of outcasts and misfits whose charter is about to be revoked. Deciding to apply some of the "know-how" she learned as a resident of the Playboy Mansion, Shelley teaches the girls how to dress more provocatively, which (obviously) leads directly to improved self-esteem, while the girls teach Shelley a sense of, er, responsibility, I guess. (That part's not too clear.) Through sheer spunk and pluck, Shelley turns around the fortunes of the Zeta sorority sisters. But, of course, there's the nasty rival sorority that doesn't take kindly to the Zetas' newfound popularity and will stop at nothing to bring them down. What happens next is a matter of rote--and perhaps rot.
The appealing Faris is nothing if not enthusiastic, desperately trying to graft some endearing aspects to the one-dimensional role of the bubble-headed Shelley. When that fails, she is basically reduced to playing dumb and parading around in a variety of revealing outfits, some of them quite fetching. There is little doubt that Faris' abilities are more than skin-deep; too bad The House Bunny is too lazy a film to even try and utilize them. The outcasts in the house do what they can--ranging from Superbad's Emma Stone (who could be on her way to being a fine comedic actress) to American Idol's Katharine McPhee (eh) to Bruce Willis and Demi Moore's daughter Rumer (double eh). And in a role that could easily have been excised from the proceedings entirely, Colin Hanks plays Shelley's resident love interest. For marquee value, there are brief appearances by veterans Beverly D'Angelo (as a snooty, rival house mother) and Christopher McDonald as the college dean. They needn't have bothered, nor should have Hugh Hefner, playing himself--and none too enthusiastically.
Fred Wolf made his feature directorial debut with the Adam Sandler/Happy Madison bomb Strange Wilderness (if you don't remember it, consider yourself lucky). The second time around is certainly no charm, nor is it appreciably better than the earlier film. It's just as flimsy and irritating, and it serves only to waste an attractive line-up of actors. This feels like discarded gags from Legally Blonde and Revenge of the Nerds, tossed together in a flimsy feature that feels every one of its 97 minutes. This doesn't play like a bad sitcom; it plays like a bad sitcom pilot. Amidst so many blockbusters this season, The House Bunny is a summer bummer from beginning to end.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.