Posted: 09/08/2008

 

The House Bunny

(2008)

by Laura Tucker




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Most of us wouldn’t look at anything going on in the Playboy Mansion as if it were a fairy tale, nevertheless, that’s how it’s presented in The House Bunny. I’m sure it’s a fairy tale for many men, yet I’m not seeing it as that for most women. For the star of this film, though, who at times has a very simplistic look on life, that’s the only way she can see it.

We know Anna Faris best for the role of Cindy in the Scary Movie series, and her character here as Shelly somewhat follows along the same lines, the young ingenue/innocent. In The House Bunny she tells the tale of being left at an orphanage in a basket and never getting adopted into a family. People finally started liking her as she reached her teen years, and she found a real house and family of her own in the Playboy Mansion.

Shelley yearns to be a centerfold, instead of just featured in “The Girls of G.E.D.s” pages of Playboy. She wakes up the morning after she turns 27 only to receive a note from Hef kicking her out. The house boy explains to her that while she’s only 27, she’s 59 in Bunny years. Her pink Prius is stripped from her, as well, and she is forced to leave in the old rusted station wagon she arrived in.

With no place to live, Shelley overhears some girls talking about a party with margueritas and follows them, ending up at a college. Eyeing up a sorority house, she feels she’s landed at home, as it looks just like a “mini-Playboy mansion.” She hears about a job called “house mother” and realizing that’s similar to what she did at the Playboy Mansion, she sets out to find an available sorority.

Shelley hooks up with Zeta Alpha Zeta, a sorority in danger of losing their charter, since they can’t get pledges. They figure they can help each other. They will help her feel wanted and needed again and give her a place to live, and she can help the girls of Zeta become popular, ensuring more interested pledges will come along to save their house. The popular sorority at the college wants to make sure Zeta doesn’t become successful, though, as for one, it jeopardizes their own popularity, and for another, they want to add the Zeta house to their own sorority in order to expand.

It’ll be quite a lot of work for Shelley to get this group popular, as she’s working with a bookworm, a punk, a girl in a brace, a girl that is mute and hides in a closet, two pregnant girls, and a girl that acts and dresses like a northwoods lumberjack. A few of the actresses are unknown, bu there’s also some pretty well-known names playing these roles, such as American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee and Rumer Willis (Bruce and Demi’s daughter). Emma Stone, currently being seen as well in The Rocker in quite a different role, also stars.

Because Shelley sees this all as a fairy tale, there also has to be a prince involved somewhere. Shelley falls for the manager of a nursing home (Colin Hanks) and decides if the Zeta Alpha Zeta helped out at the nursing home, it would fill the “philanthropic” requirement they have, yet she fails to ever get this word right, calling it “Phil-Trophy.”

Some of the jokes fall a little short in this fairy tale, which would be okay if it was just a fairy tale, but it’s also supposed to be a comedy, and it fails somewhat. However, fairy tales are also supposed to be warm and endearing, and that’s where The House Bunny succeeds. The cast does a great job with the story, getting us to care about them, and the story pitches in as well, giving us the moral at the end.

Laura Tucker is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints and Reality Shack, and operates a celebrity gossip blog, Troubled Hollywood. She is also an Associate Instructor and 1st dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts.



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