Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The House Bunny (2008)

Directed by Fred Wolf
Starring Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Katherine McPhee
Rated PG-13

"Instead of the Mahi-Mahi, can I get just the one Mahi, because I'm not that hungry?"

If you've seen the trailer, than you've seen the movie: loony-cartoony Anna Faris is Shelley, a relentlessly smiley Playboy model who lives an idyllic life at the mansion with Hef and his camera-clogging trio of indenti-blondes until a rival centerfold wanna-be cooks up a simple-but-effective plan to sabotage our plucky heroine, and she soon finds herself ousted from her fleshy Neverland. Lacking any skills besides boner-causing and make-overs, she soon stumbles her way into the very unlikely role of house mother for a dead-in-the-water sorority house populated by nerdy girls, feminists, a chick in a back brace, American Idol almost-winner Katherine McPhee in a giant prop pregnant belly, and gravelly Emma Stone (you know, Jules from Superbad) as the sorta-normal one. Of course, she takes them shopping, gives them glammy makeovers, and shows them how to attract boys using age-old techniques like washing a car in a bright pink bikini and bending over a lot. And just like that, Shazam! The Zeta-whatever sorority house is the most popular in the school and the mean alpha-bitches that tormented them get their comeuppance. But wait, now the once cool-but-nerdy girls are acting just as catty and wicked as the ice queens who rejected them in the first place, and Shelley can't make any time with good-guy Oliver (Colin Hanks) because, well, she's too dumb. Yikes! We need a fix-up-the-place montage quick!

Ok, so the premise is so thin it groans and splinters within the first five minutes, but only the cruelest of hearts could complain, really.  The House Bunny is a sweet, big-hearted homage to 80's teen comedies (Revenge of the Nerds, in particular) that practically radiates with goofball charm. Faris is perfect in the role of the clueless-but-kind Shelley, (although her rubbery vamping never quite translates to sexy when it's supposed to, even in the skimpiest of outfits), and the supporting cast hit all the right notes along the way.

Despite its PG-13 rating, there's nary a nipple to be ogled (although you do get a quick flash of Faris-ass), so look elsewhere for raunch, but if you're in the mood for an airy, candy-colored 80's throwback, The House Bunny will charm the pants right off you. Playboy girls are good at that, apparently.

One thing, though: as far as I can tell, the message of this movie is that your best shot at popularity, if you're young and female, is to be smart and pretty. That sounds like a lot of work. Good luck, ladies.

- Ken McIntyre

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