The House Bunny


The only thing worse than dumb is boring. In The House Bunny, director Fred Wolf’s inescapable mess of a comedy, there is better dialogue to be found by a whispering movie patron, than the actual cast of the film, which says just how boring this movie really can be. We’ve all seen Anna Faris as the goofy, wide eyed idiot savant in the Scary Movie franchise. She has also donned her half cocked, brainless facial expressions in such mediocre outings as Smiley Face and the Ryan Reynolds vehicle, Best Friends. Faris’ best arsenal as a comedian is not only her knack to bend a facsimile sex appeal with a kooky restlessness, but also her pseudo-comic timing, a timing that sees her break things for the sake of wacky slapstick humor and cheap laughs. Big deal.

In The House Bunny, Faris plays her entire hand – assuming that she has one to play in the first place – and delves into her airhead mannerisms with little discerning tact or strategy. Faris plays Shelley Darlingson, a Playboy bunny readying herself for her 27th birthday at the famed mansion. Working on a hunch that she will become Heff’s choice for Miss November, Faris instead wakes to an alleged note by the magazine aficionado. To Shelley’s ultimate dismay, the note tells her to leave the mansion’s premises immediately, and thus begins an odyssey like adventure for the ostracized, dimwitted nude model.

After being kicked out of the mansion – with not even her hissing, precious kitten will follow her – Shelley finds a home with the sorority girls from Zeta Alpha Zeta. The members, a hodgepodge of unpopular and socially inept girls, take Shelley into their home when they realize that she attracts boys to their campus home. Shelley, the good natured and now bumbling housemother of Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority, helps the clueless lot of studious girls become socially acceptable bimbos – but don’t worry, there’s a moral in the end.

The unaccepted girls in the sorority suffer from various unbecoming disabilities, our director tells us, such as being handicapped, gothic, husky voiced, and my personal favorite, pregnant. Shelley, thankfully for us, teaches our unanimous coalesce of outcasts to become “pretty” by growing their hair out, wearing cleavage bearing tops, and strutting sexually as if on a catwalk. This is justified, I think, by the fact that Shelley apologizes for her wrongful advice during the climax.
Wouldn’t it be easier to skip the offenses altogether by not exploiting our characters’ bodies in the first place to make them feel better? But, then again, there wouldn’t be this terrible movie if the body of the movie wasn’t trashy, I guess.

Since this is a supposed teen comedy, we get a porous script with artificial villains who sneer and wear short skirts, jokes that involve toilet humor, and a pop soundtrack that sounds like someone jack hammered the film with a steady diet of the All-American Rejects. All things, I might add, make for a regrettable movie experience, despite its manipulative marketing ploys. Thanks, mainstream cinema.

No matter how stupid Anna Faris’ character comes off as, there’s always enough room for the vacuous and uncharismatic Colin Hanks to plod through a few scenes. Playing as Faris’ love interest, Hanks is the seemingly good guy who helps out at a retirement home. In the movie Untraceable, Hanks’ most memorable role to date, he is killed by a vat of battery acid. I wished for a similar situation here.

The bad acting doesn’t stop there, however, and we get to see Cardinal’s quarterback Matt Leinart, in all of his womanizing glory, hang out at the Playboy mansion in the opening sequences. I assume, looking back at the film, that this cameo had to have been one of the reasons the former USC gunslinger was benched prior to the regular season.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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