Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.
Release Date: August 22nd, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Fred Wolf Actors: Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Beverly D’Angelo, Katharine McPhee, Rumer Willis, Monet Mazur, Sarah Wright, Dana Goodman, Kimberly Makkouk
he House Bunny” is one of the most formulaic and predictable films in recent history. It lacks even the tiniest speck of originality and, what’s worse, it isn’t humorous. The target audience must be nonexistent, considering that the first half of the film is entirely composed of scantily clad eye-candy prancing about gaily, while the second half is the most cringe-worthy tale of losers-turned-heroes and cutesy girl-bonding imaginable. Brimming with stereotypes and ludicrous clichés (including several eye-gouging montages), “The House Bunny” can’t even be considered a guilty-pleasure film; there simply isn’t an excuse to watch this generic mess – not for the abundance of skin, not for the comedy, and certainly not for the message of staying true to oneself.
Shelley Darlingson (Anna Faris) started life as a baby on a doorstep – unwanted and abandoned and left for an orphanage. As everyone around her gets adopted, she remains, thanks to adolescent awkwardness and ugliness – until she grows up and becomes gorgeous (what kind of a message are the filmmakers trying to send with that?). With striking beauty comes rapidly growing attention, and soon she’s off to live in the Playboy mansion, dreaming of the day she’ll become a centerfold. When a jealous rival, also vying for the Miss November honor, dupes Shelley into believing she’s been kicked out of the mansion (the day after her 27th birthday – which is 59 in bunny years), Shelley goes off in search of a new home.
After spending her first night in jail, the waif inquires about becoming a house mother at a nearby Beverly Hills sorority, only to be swiftly rejected. Her next attempt is Zeta House, a pathetic group of misfits about to lose their home, thanks to a lack of popularity and general social naiveté that prevents them from receiving any pledges. With a new mission at hand and a new beau (Colin Hanks) to conquer, Shelley sets out to teach the girls of Zeta how to be sexy.
It’s difficult to determine just how much of the film is specifically gratuitous partial nudity (which isn’t all that effective with a PG-13 rating) and how much is a purposeful lampoon. Faris takes her role seriously, complete with ditzy dialogue (“My heart is pounding like a nail”), silly guidance (“The eyes are the nipples of the face”), and dumb-blonde physical gags (such as a gum-in-the-hair routine). One gets the feeling she’s simultaneously promoting and mocking supermodel Playmates, which is an ineffective way to deliver a moral. And a few notable supporting players add shapely figures (including Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Katharine McPhee, Rumer Willis, and real-life “Girls Next Door” Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson). But the lack of genuinely funny moments is enough to single-handedly ruin “The House Bunny”; a comedy with no successful humor is a failure indeed. Or maybe it’s actually quite witty that the dialogue is so atrocious that it borders on unwatchable. For anyone who can actually make it all the way through, the outrageous, multi-million dollar Aztec party and utterly implausible conclusion might be enough to conjure regret. Then again, some people don’t need a reason to watch bad movies.
– Mike Massie