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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The House Bunny

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Anna Faris Is Irresisible In "The House Bunny"

Formerly titled “I Know What Boys Like”, The House Bunny stars Anna Faris as sexy but ditzy blonde Shelley, who had made a leap from abandoned baby to orphanage to living her adult life in Hugh Hefner’s mansion as a carefree, pampered Playboy bunny whose one dream is to be a centerfold. But, the morning after celebrating her 27th birthday she, unexpectedly, is given a letter from Hef saying she’s been evicted and has only two hours to leave the premises. Shocked and confused she asks why. “Because you are now too old; 27 is like 59 in bunny years”, she is told by the mansion’s mixologist Marvin (Owen Benjamin). Thrown out with only her bags, an old beat up station wagon, and homeless, it doesn’t take too long before she comes in contact with the girls of Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority house (which, on the outside, to Shelley, looks like a mini mansion) who have some huge problems of their own. Unless they can come up with thirty new charter pledges, the girls are going to lose their house to another sorority, Phi Iota Mu, led by the calculating, mean Ashley (Sarah Wright).

The bunch of clueless geeks is also in desperate need of a house mother as well as physical makeovers. Enter Shelley, who needs a place to live and in turn, as house mother, can teach the girls about makeup and clothes and transform them into sexy babes to attract the opposite sex and ultimately save their sorority. Shelley certainly has her work cut out for her with the crew of misfits that include house president, brainy, but awkward Natalie (a terrific Emma Stone, presently also in The Rocker); a very pregnant Harmony (Katherine McFee, former American Idol runner up), insecure Joanne (Rumer Willis, Bruce and Demi’s daughter) in a neck to waist body brace; facially pierced Goth chick Mona (Kat Demmings) and hick tomboy Carie Mae (a hilarious Dana Goodman). In the meantime, Shelley finds herself falling for Oliver (Colin Hanks, sounding and looking like his father, Tom, back in his younger days), the sweet natured manager of a nursing home. Employing all of her sexy tricks in what she thinks will win him over turns out to be a disaster and not what it takes to make a romantic connection. It appears the awkward sorority sisters aren’t the only ones who have a lot to learn about life and the value of inner qualities over outside appearances.

Produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Production Company, the film is better than I anticipated and refrains from stooping to gross out, crude humor, a staple of Sandler’s movies that usually feature the comedy star. On the contrary, I found The House Bunny to be a harmlessly entertaining satire with lots of very funny lines and slapstick humor. If it looks way too familiar that’s because it encapsulates the basic formula that’s been used over and over again.

Comparisons to Legal Blonde is a given. Not surprising, both flicks were scripted by the same two women, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, who must have a soft spot for fish out of water comedies showcasing pink loving, clueless lookers with a big heart. Yet, what gives this comedy a boost, making it watchable and even charming is its irresistible star Ana Faris, a naturally gifted comedian who reminds me of a young wide eyed Goldie Hawn (I could see her younger self in this role) with some Lucille Ball thrown in. Faris is the main attraction, and once you get passed the T&A shots (the director, Fred Wolf, after all is a male) of the curvy star, it is the strength of her sincere performance that carries the film. A scene stealer from the get go (Scary Movie franchise, Smiley Face, and Just Friends where she was hilarious spoofing Britney Spears) it’s about time Faris got a much deserving starring role of her own. The funniest piece, having the audience in stitches, is the way Shelley’s voice goes into a deep demon-like (think the Excorcist) growl whenever she repeats a name so as not to forget it. Something tells me that Faris and this particular bit will forever be attached. In any case, her star is rising and rightfully so.

Hefner and his trio of bimbo girlfriends (aka, The Girls Next Door: Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, Kendra Wilkinson) all appear as themselves in this spoof of the Playboy empire and its sex-ploitation of women.

I have to say it is obvious Hollywood nepotism is at work here since lucky for the unattractive Rumer, her parents’ star power has opened doors that might have been closed. And, in her big screen debut, singer Katherine McFee doesn’t get much to do. Some character development and back story on her pregnant character is a missing factor that was probably, and a bad mistake, left on the cutting room floor.

But, it goes back to Faris. She is the number one reason to The House Bunny. Like her character, she has what it takes to save the day.