The House Bunny (2008)

Genre(s): Comedy
Sony || PG13 - 97 minutes - $29.96 || December 19, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-12-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Fred Wolf
Writer(s): Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith (written by)
Cast: Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Katharine McPhee, Rumer Willis, Beverly D'Angelo, Christopher McDonald


Theatrical Release Date: August 22, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Deleted Scenes
  • 12 Featurettes
  • Introduction to "I Know What Boys Like"
  • Music Video: "I Know What Boys Like"


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French

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.::THE FILM::.

Animal House meets Legally Blonde (sort of). The House Bunny stars Anna Faris plays Shelley, a Playboy Bunny who, after a tough childhood growing up in an orphanage, is living the life at the Mansion because she, at the age of 27, was too old. Nowhere else to go, she stumbles upon a rundown and about-to-be-closed sorority house: Zeta Alpha Zeta. Full of misfits and, frankly, ugly chicks, they ask Shelley to be their den mother and teach them the ways of getting boys and other social conventions all so they can get the needed 30 members to save the house.

Amongst giving them a makeover, Shelley meets and falls for Oliver (Colin Hanks) and now she needs the help of her housemates to learn how to be more than just a vain, ditzy blonde. I won’t bother to go through each of them considering there aren’t many standouts given the characters are flat caricatures and a little unbelievable. Remember She’s All That, where a jock makes a bet to turn an unattractive girl into a beautiful young woman? Same sort of thing happens, especially with the Natalie character (played by Emma Stone). At first she’s this all-too geeky, glasses-wearing chick who suddenly, with the help of Shelley, transforms into a lovely butterfly. It’s the same concept and message.

Written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, the gals behind Legally Blonde (surprise surprise) and the forgettable She’s the Man, The House Bunny certainly has its moments of shear and simple comedy. Yes, I laughed at plenty of jokes but that was thanks primarily to Anna Faris who I’ve been a fan of since Scary Movie. However, her range even as this character is very limited, though no thanks to a script that never deviates from the obvious and when that cliché finale is revealed, one can only groan because, if you’ve seen any of these types of movies, you know what’s going to happen.

When it comes to predictable movies like The House Bunny and so many other comedies, it’s what’s in the middle which the film lives or dies. For this addition to the genre, it was pretty mixed. You noticed there was this subplot with a nice guy named Oliver and the reason it (the subplot) or even Oliver is even in the film is to allow Shelley to grow as a character and having to rely on others to conform to social (i.e. outside the Mansion) standards. But really, this was only a minor focal point and the two characters never seemed right for one another that by the end when, I won’t spoil it for you, something happens, I could only roll my eyes.

All that being said, and even with all those flaws, The House Bunny is an enjoyable enough movie. Fluffy perhaps, but still enjoyable. Anna Faris is adorable as always and even though this isn’t her best performance (her brief appearance in Lost Translation is still my favorite), she gives it her all and succeeds about 60% of the time. When you have a comedy with so many clichés and a predictable finale, all you can ask for is to have something to hold on to for the rest, and this movie had just enough.

And I know I’m going to contradict something I typed a paragraph or two back, but even though Anna Faris’ character isn’t well developed (in all honesty, a comedy it doesn’t need much anyway), but Faris as a comedian is utterly hilarious in almost all her scenes. Faris is a gem even when a script fails overall. It also doesn’t hurt that she is absolutely gorgeous either...

The House Bunny features some interesting casting choices: the aforementioned Emma Stone and Colin Hanks (who gets second billing but is barely in the film) and rising star Kat Dennings (Charlie Bartlett, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist), Katherine McPhee (“American Idol” winner), Rumer Willis (aka Bruce Willis’ daughter), Kiely Williams (“The Cheetah Girls”) and some throwaway cameos from Christopher McDonald and Beverly D’Angelo. And then there are the throwaway cameos like Hugh Hefner (who, for a poor acting job, was funny at times), Dan Patrick, Sean Salisbury, Matt Leinart (why not, he can’t play football anyway) and Shaquille O’Neal.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Not an entirely well packed DVD (a commentary with Anna Faris and the cast would’ve been great), but there are a few features:

Deleted Scenes (11:50) – 10 scenes that were rightly removed have been included. Most of it would’ve been padding if left in, but still fun to watch in any case.

12 Featurettes (53:12) are available to watch separately or with the “Play All” option (which is what I did). Most of them are a bit on the light side but give a glimpse at how the girls got along with one another and the fun they had on set. Amongst these are featurettes about the guest cameos, costumes, casting (Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, Katherine McPhee, Tyson Ritter) and much, much more.

Finally there is a music video (2:21), which is just the final scene with clips spliced in and an Introduction to “I Know What Boys Like” (0:22) music video by Katherine McPhee.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

I was actually impressed with Sony’s video transfer (2.40 OAR) as it seems some studios are intentionally downgrading picture quality to ease people into Blu-ray High-Def. Not the case here. I found the picture to be clear, crisp and very clean. I didn’t notice much in the way of artifacts, dusts or scratches.

Also impressive is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that for a comedy like this was good. The film is primarily dialogue heavy but they do use quite a bit of Top 40 hits so the bass and other channels get some usage.



.::OVERALL::.

The House Bunny is a cute time filler of a movie and features a funny performance from the always enjoyable Anna Faris. It’s a shame the story wasn’t as good in places as this could’ve been a solid recommendation, but for now it’s good enough for viewing on HBO (or a rental if you’re aching to see Faris). The DVD itself isn’t anything special, though it was surprising to see nearly an hour of featurettes, though a cast commentary would’ve been great.