Screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith cannibalize their 2001 hit Legally Blonde for The House Bunny, a dumb-blonde-on-campus tale in which a playboy playmate is forced to move out of Hef’s mansion and winds up becoming the house mother to a sorority of college misfits. Shelley (Anna Faris) longs to be a centerfold but instead achieves fulfillment turning a group of nerdy Zeta weirdoes into popular bombshells just in time to help them save their residence from a rival sorority led by a bitch wearing a standard-issue evil-preppie sweater tied around her neck. Anyone over the age of 10 has seen this slop before, which director Fred Wolf—showing a fondness for crappy teenybopper rock and empty camera whooshes—handles with bare-minimum competence. As Shelley molds her new charges, including awkward Natalie (Emma Stone) and pierced goth Mona (Kat Dennings), the film espouses the belief that finding and embracing your inner sexpot is the key to gaining confidence and obtaining friends and lovers. It’s a superficial argument fit for a Disney Princess product, and one that’s only oh-so-marginally complicated by Mona’s faux-interest in feminist analysis of male obsessions with physical beauty, as well as Shelley’s eventual realization that her looks alone won’t win the heart of nursing home manager Oliver (Colin Hanks). Nevertheless, the film flops less because of its celebration of bubblegum bimbo-dom than because it’s a slapdash affair largely lacking in laughs, save for those generated by a Zeta girl’s bizarrely manish voice and Shelley’s habit of repeating people’s names, upon first introduction, in a monster growl. Decked out in a variety of bustiers and skimpy short-shorts that complement her wavy Farrah Fawcett locks and botoxed lips, Faris exudes both sexiness and dimwitted sweetness, and is at least provided a couple of opportunities to display her gift for bumbling pratfalls and random exclamations (“Sweet balls!”). Otherwise, Lutz and Smith’s leaden, mechanical script stuffs its winning leading lady into one lifeless scenario after another, though as far as Playboy-themed projects go, House Bunny‘s flaccid, formulaic fantasy is still light years more entertaining, and progressive, than the E!‘s rancid The Girls Next Door.
- Columbia Pictures
- 97 min
- Fred Wolf
- Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith
- Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Katharine McPhee, Rumer Willis, Christopher McDonald, Beverly D'Angelo, Hugh Hefner
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: