The House Bunny

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The House Bunny
Review (4/10)
(By Erin Cullin)

As I stood at the ticket kiosk at the local theater trying to choose which film would be the subject of this week's review, I found myself in the unenviable predicament of having to choose between "Death Race" and "The House Bunny".

I say unenviable because I wished to see neither. The unfortunate reality of acting as a film critic is the fact that, while you have the opportunity to see many fantastic films, there are also times that you find yourself forced to spend two hours sitting in a theater watching something that is the on-screen equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

I chose "The House Bunny" after becoming aware that its screenplay had been written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, the same writing duo who were responsible for penning "Legally Blond" (and who wisely declined to pen "Legally Blond 2"). The title of the film was less than appealing, but I felt that with this pedigree it might have some redeeming qualities.

At one point during the film, a less-than-endearing character describes the lead character as "vapid".

How ironic that this is also the best adjective that one can use to describe this film.

"The House Bunny" tells the story of Shelley (Anna Faris), a lonely orphan who finds acceptance with Hugh and the girls at the Playboy Mansion. She calls the mansion home until her 27th birthday when she is unceremoniously sent packing because she is "too old". With no family and no employment experience, she finds herself homeless. Wandering the streets of LA, she encounters a row of sorority houses on a college campus, and eventually takes up residence there as the house mother to a group of misfit girls who are on the verge of having their sorority charter revoked. Using the Playboy touch, she transforms the girls and their sorority house into the most popular destination on campus.

I should preface my review by saying that, much to my surprise, there were several people in the theater when I attended this film. While I sat through two hours of excruciating agony, there were people in the audience who were laughing. This film does have an audience - from what I could see, that audience consisted of teenage girls and perhaps a few boys who enjoyed watching Anna Faris prancing around in skimpy clothes.

In many ways, "The House Bunny" reminded me of an updated version of "Revenge of the Nerds". Instead of using their brains to foil the "cool kids", however, the nerds in this version elect to conduct themselves like a group of gutter snipes and realize in the end that it makes them no better than the group who rejected them in the first place. This backhanded lesson is supposed to offset the film's overriding message that, in order to be popular, young women must check their brains and their sense of common decency at the door.

If there is one redeeming aspect of this film, it is the performance of Anna Faris. A veteran of the "Scary Movie" series, Faris has developed a growing film resume that has included both serious ("Brokeback Mountain", "Lost in Translation") and not-so-serious ("My Super Ex-Girlfriend", "The Hot Chick") film projects. She is a talented slapstick comedienne, with a hint of a Marilyn Monroe quality about her. If she can just find a way to avoid being typecast as a vacuous blond (she actually has a degree in English Literature from the University of Washington), she might have a long career ahead of her. Unfortunately, she works in Hollywood, where vacuous blonds are in high demand, so I do not hold much hope for her.

"The House Bunny" is a film that offers about as much as its title suggests. If you are in the mind for two hours of buxomous fluff, then this is the film for you. If, like me, you do not find two hours of prancing sorority girls to be particularly appealing, then I would hop over to "Tropic Thunder" instead.

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