Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic
A disappointing vehicle for Anna Faris.
When I first saw the trailer for The House Bunny a film about a twenty-seven year old playboy bunny who finds herself homeless after being kicked out of the mansion, I was hoping it would follow along the lines of Clueless or Legally Blonde. With Anna Faris of Scary Movie fame playing the lead role it would seem as though the film had a chance to be a real hoot. While The House Bunny certainly has some very funny scenes, mostly those where Faris’ character Shelley, a not so smart but good hearted bombshell delivers those oh so dumb they’re actually funny lines, the humor never takes off, in fact it pretty much flat lines about half way through.
When Shelley finds herself out on the street after receiving a letter from Hugh Hefner (playing himself) asking her to leave, she stumbles upon a sorority who needs a house mother. The girls are about to lose their house because unlike the more popular Phi house, the girls in Zeta are so homely that no boys will come within a hundred yards of them and so they can’t recruit the thirty pledges needed to keep their house. Shelley thinks that she can teach them how to be sexy and turn their fortunes around. Of course the girls are so awkward when it comes to physical appearances that it will take a lot of work to get to the point where the boys will be turned on.
For the first half of The House Bunny we watch as Shelley shows the girls how to wash cars in scantily clad outfits, wear the right make-up and make the guys want them. There are some laughs generated from the disconnect between her and the sorority girls especially Natalie (Emma Stone) a pretty girl who has no idea how pretty she really is. Faris is immensely likeable and comfortable in this kind of role which is basically the same role she played in the Scary Movie films. Much like Leslie Nielsen in the Naked Gun series, Faris delivers silly lines with a straight face and she’s almost as good at it.
The problem with the film is that it plays it too safe with its humor. After it squeezes everything it can out of Shelley teaching the girls how to be bunny like, it then goes in an even more predictable direction of having the girls teach Shelly how to be smart. A relationship that develops between Shelley and a dude who runs a nursing home (Colin Hanks) is used as nothing more than a set-up for a few gags where Shelley has no idea how to act with a real guy. Most of the humor is so predictable that we can see it coming from a mile away and therefore even Faris’ perfect delivery can’t inject the spontaneity that The House Bunny so desperately needed.