Simply Hare Brained
"The House Bunny" is an incredibly simple movie; it's basically the failing FRAT house storyline where someone helps turn things around. The only real difference is usually these stories are about horny men who turn the luck of their FRAT house around where here we have sexy girls turning around the fortunes of their Sorority house. And that is all there is to it, the whole playboy/bunny element is just a way of setting things up and what follows on from there as we watch Shelley help the girls of the ZETA house is seriously lame. In fact it also feels safely lame because what "The House Bunny" needed to be was full on raunchy rather than dull titillation for 13 year old boys who get happy at the sight of hot pants.
After growing up in an orphanage Shelley Darlingson (Anna Faris - My Super Ex-Girlfriend) finally finds her place in the world when she blossoms from an ugly duckling into a Playboy Bunny, living at Hef's mansion where everyone loves her. But the day after her 27th birthday she is tricked into leaving after receiving a letter supposedly from Hefner himself asking her to leave. With no where to go and having spent the night in jail after being arrested for sleeping in her car Shelley stumbles across the ZETA sorority house. In desperate need of pledges to stay open and seeing how boys flock to be near Shelley, the girls of ZETA ask her to be their house mother and not only does she help them try to gain pledges but turns these geeky misfits into sexy, popular young women as well.
In fairness "The House Bunny" starts out reasonably well as we are taken to Hefner's Playboy mansion and meet the vacuous Shelley. It does a reasonable job of setting up her character and whilst the twist of her being thrown out the day after she turns 27 is painfully obvious you do sort of expect that things could go well. But in reality the warning signs are already there because all of these scenes at the mansion are so safe it is also cheesy, bikini clad dancing may make young boys happy but it does little for anyone who is older.
And sadly whilst you may expect things to get better "The House Bunny" then becomes utterly dull as it works through the FRAT house playbook. As such we meet the various bunch of complete losers in the ZETA house, their attractive rivals in another house and watch as Shelley helps the ZETA's not only become sexy but also keep their house by attracting enough pledges. Oh and of course you need some sort of moral message to this so the ZETA girls who get their head turned by the attention learn that they are turning into bitches whilst Shelley meets a nice guy. Basically all of this has been seen before, it is the same sort of stuff which appeared in the likes of "Animal House", "Van Wilder 2" and "American Pie Presents Beta House", the only difference is this is a Sorority house rather than FRAT house.
All of which wouldn't have been so bad if rather than trying to play it safe and appeal to barely teenage boys they threw in some real raunchiness. In fact just the jokes rather than being almost sweet innuendo would have been better if they were full on crude. It may have turned "The House Bunny" into just another crude teen movie but heck at least it would have made me laugh as I don't remember laughing once throughout the whole movie. You almost get a sense that the writers spotted an opportunity to create a movie which played to male fantasies, playboy bunnies, sorority girls, car washes and hot pants but someone told them they had to keep it innocent.
As for the acting well Anna Faris is the best thing about "The House Bunny" and gives her all at trying to make the humour of being a dumb blonde work but she ends up like a knock of Goldie Hawn. The whole ditzy side of things ends up being annoying because it ends up being forced and whilst the character is meant to be awkward it is too awkward at times. But then as I said Faris is the best thing about "The House Bunny" and the likes of Emma Stone, Kat Dennings and Rumer Willis all deliver terrible characters. And it's not just the young women who have bad characters and bad performances as Colin Hanks, Christopher McDonald and Beverly D'Angelo in their small roles are no better.
What this all boils down to is that "The House Bunny" probably does appeal to a select group, young boys who secretly look through the lingerie section of clothes brochures. But for anyone else this is a movie which recycles a familiar set up and fails to make it any more interesting by switching it to a sorority house with a bunny girl.