The House Bunny
I’ve never wanted to be steam before … there’s a first time for everything.

Theatrical Release Date: 08/22/2008
Director: Fred Wolf
Cast: Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Katherine McPhee, Rumer Willis, Sarah Wright, Rachel Specter, Hugh Hefner, , Christopher McDonald, Beverly D’Angelo, Colin Hanks

My affinity for Anna Faris is no big secret. Attractive and talented, I’ve found enjoyment in all of her roles – even when the film had little intrinsic value like “Scary Movie” and her performance was the only thing holding together an otherwise awful project.

In many ways, that’s the case with “The House Bunny” as well. While the film wants to be sweet and funny, there’s a big, big … big, big …. big, BIG problem with the script and comedian turned director Fred Wolf did anything but impress me as a new feature director (He also has “Strange Wilderness” under his belt … and finding someone other than a critic who’s seen that is sort of like finding the Sasquatch).

The premise of the film is a down on her luck potential Playboy bunny that becomes the house mother of a flailing sorority and through trials and tribulations, makes everyone becomes a better person and the world makes sense again … or something like that, you really shouldn’t care about it.

My almost innumerable problems with the script lie in the lack of common sense, practicality and realism inherent in almost every scene. Now, that’s not to say being completely over-the-top and ridiculous with no regard for consistent plot development can’t be funny … look at nearly every Adam Sandler film (not so coincidentally, his production company was behind this effort). However, for every funny joke (of which there are quite a few), there’s a completely gag-worthy sentimentality right around the corner … there’s even a “Forrest Gump” reference … “Forrest f’ing Gump”! How timely to make a joke based on a film over a decade old that few of this film’s intended audience have even seen. Or even worse, there’s Forrest’s son – Colin Hanks.

Before the almighty Mr. Hanks sends a couple of guys to my door to break my legs, let me just say that I don’t really have much of a problem with little Colin. It’s just that he needs to know his range (about 6 feet) and stick to it. He’s not a leading man and trying to make the audience believe that a good-hearted, Playboy bunny hopeful would deem him Mr. Right is sort of like trying to sell me Saddam Hussein’s spider-hole as a time share … it’s just not happening.

A few comedic veterans (Beverly D’Angelo and Christopher McDonald) make an appearance much to my delight – but only to play stereotypical, one-dimensional characters They breathe a little life into the predictable nature of it all but having such minor roles, they can only do so much. On the other end of the specturm, a surprisingly large cameo was given to Hugh Hefner and while no one’s going to be in a rush to hand him an Oscar (seriously, we’re talking junior high Shakespeare here), it was fun to see him lampoon himself and the empire that he has created.

The insanely attractive Rachel Specter and equally alluring Katherine McPhee were brought in as eye candy (and in McPhee’s case to sing the worst end credits sequence of the year and quite possibly the decade). Perhaps one of the funniest ways the filmmakers made the sorority girls seem less attractive, so as to make their transformation into hotties that much more shocking, was to knock up McPhee. Even ready to burst, her beauty came through to me (no, I don’t have a fetish) but I appreciated that the only way they thought it was possible to make her seem incapable of snagging a man was to put a bun in the oven.

Sadly, almost everything else in the film comes off as tired or wildly improbable and considering Faris begins her path as sorority life coach essentially homeless and broke, her ability to pay for huge make-overs and crazy parties makes me wish credit card companies didn’t make you settle your debts. Life would be so much easier that way … and apparently, it makes scripts a lot easier to write as well.

“The House Bunny” plods along fragile rails of half-ass thought and were it not for Faris’ involvement, I might have slapped this film with a 0 out of 5 faster than that Jamaican sprinter can run out of a burning house. But for possibly no other reasons than a schoolboy crush on Faris, an appreciation for her acting abilities and seeing the film’s good intentions, I’ll slap “The House Bunny” with the weakest 2 out of 5 known to man, woman and child.

And in order to try and justify how in the world this film could possibly rate a 2 when it could so easily have slid to the cellar, I’ll say this for the project: For all the terrible decisions regarding the script, editing and direction – they cast Anna Faris. She is one of the few actresses today that can pull off a dumb but sweet comedic role without making the audience think that the actress herself is dumb but sweet (Insert Cameron Diaz joke here). Also, while many of the “sisterhood” elements border on the wrong side of Nauseatown, the surprisingly decent efforts of Emma Stone and Kat Dennings help alleviate a small portion of the burden Faris must bear in order to have kept me from hitting the bottle mid-film.