Playboy Bunny Shelly Darlingson (Anna Faris) lives a pampered life along with her fellow Bunnies at the Playboy Mansion. The day after her twenty-seventh birthday, her life crumbles when she receives a letter from Hugh Hefner telling her to vacate the Playboy Mansion immediately (apparently 27 is the auto-retirement age for Bunnies). Devastated, she is cast out to fend for herself which basically equates to living in her old beat up station wagon. As luck would have it though, she is introduced to the Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority, who are in desperate need of a house mother who can help them keep their charter. Their problem is they can’t fulfill the mandatory 30 pledges required, which isn’t surprising because all the sisters are as awkward as water is wet. Their ranks are filled with the typical comic dysfunctionals — the charming but horribly graceless defacto leader Natalie (Emma Stone); the painfully shy Lilly (Kiely Williams); the about to burst, pregnant sister Harmony (Katharine McPhee); the masculine country beast Carrie Mae (Dana Goodman); the physically braced Joanne (Rumer Willis); and the radical feminist gothic chick Mona (Kat Dennings).
Nothing about The House Bunny blew me away. I actually spent a great deal of time looking at the movie instead of watching it. I caught myself wondering inane thoughts like: where was the movie filmed, what it would be like to visit the Playboy Mansion, was Hugh Hefner really as nice as he seems, and if I go to the bathroom now, would I miss an interesting scene. It wasn’t because I was not myself that day or that I was distracted, it was because for the most part I was bored. There isn’t anything particularly original about the film – most of the jokes have been seen before in some fashion or another.
From a character perspective, I fully expect a comedy of this style to be full of over the top characters acting larger than life but there were a few, one especially, that were really over the top in The House Bunny. Carrie Mae is so ridiculous; she wouldn’t survive anywhere but in an Arkansas trailer park. She runs like a charging bull, flirts with guys by talking about taking a dump and talks like a five year old girl trying to speak like a man. Director Fred Wolf needed to do a much better job of suffocating the exaggerated tendencies of Goodman – they’re that bad. On the other hand, Oliver (Colin Hanks), the sweet nursing home manager and Shelly’s love interest is a completely useless and unnecessary character. If he had been cut from the movie or been given an actual purpose, I might have enjoyed things a bit more.
Then there is Anna Faris. It was evident to me she was cast for the four “B”‘s she’s got going for her. She is Blonde. She is Beautiful. She has a nice set of Boobies. She may be an abuser of Botox. I wouldn’t have noticed the last “B” but since this flick is a rather weak offering, I couldn’t help but notice the corners of her mouth were unable to work in unison; only one side could be up at a time. I found this movement in her face very bizarre and distracting.
Seventy-five percent of plot is how to look and act like a Playboy pinup. No one can deny there is value in looking great but I don’t know if there is value enough in it to make an entire movie about it. If by chance there is enough perceived value, The House Bunny was a poor choice for that representation. You’re probably better off watching a Playboy Video Centerfold DVD – you’ll get more bang for your buck.