Wednesday, October 01, 2008

409 - The House Bunny review

Note: I wrote this about a month ago but have been lazy about putting it up.

I remember when Playboy used to be for adults. It was forbidden fruit, the bawdy reward of the industrious kid willing to rifle through his father’s closet. But now virtually anyone of any age can easily identify Playboy symbols and figures, courtesy of marketing such as the dreadful reality series “The Girls Next Door” and now “The House Bunny,” a PG-13 romcom.

The film sports an ideal message for young girls: if you dress like a floozy and act exactly how the crowd wants you to, then you’ll be popular and have no problem picking up cute boys. Really, this lifestyle is all well and good for those who decide it’s for them, such as Shelly (Anna Faris), the titular Playmate, but it’s a shame to see it forced upon intelligent young women that might have a more interesting college experience ahead of them than getting topless at frat parties and nailing down a husband.

Shelly spreads her lifestyle to impressionable young minds when she becomes the house mother of a failing sorority. Recently booted from the Playboy mansion after turning 27 (“That’s like 59 in Playmate years,” she’s told), Shelly beelines for the comfort of another big house full of women, taking it upon herself to make sure none of them leave college without a double-digit number of sexual partners.

Indeed, the film seems to tout the notion that the most offensive thing to one’s good sensibilities is an 18-year-old virgin. What an offense to good taste, you might ask, if you’re a freshman fraternity pledge eager for his piece. How could a crew of actual adults make this film? Well, go to the IMDB and see who produced it for an answer.

In two subplots, Shelly chases after Tom Hanks’ son and does battle with the richer sorority across the street, made up of girls that resemble her more than the misfits at her own actually do. Not to worry, Shelly arranges an elaborate party that take a Playboy mansion sized budget to throw, but never mind the details. Whatever needs to happens happens, though I’m still not certain exactly why Bruce Willis’ daughter needed a back brace. Couldn’t Pa get her a better role than this one?

Anna Faris is a gifted actress, much better at playing funny than most of her contemporaries. Despite a trim figure, she doesn’t look anything like an actual Playmate, but I doubt one of the real ones would be capable of generating any intentional laughs. Faris begs for a superior showcase for her talent, but has yet to star in so much as a minor classic, and frequently headlines more of the insufferable fare. Maybe she’ll be awarded soon, but at 31, I’m getting sadly doubtful.

To the credit of reason, this film’s immaturity makes an unfortunate sense. Playboy used to be for adults, but now it really is for children. The women pictured inside look not like people, but cartoons, airbrushed and photoshopped out of the realm of the sensual and into the juvenile. I hope Hef is proud.

1.5 out of 5


William said...

I agree completely with your review bud, I wrote something similar in my review of this film. I don't know why it seems to be the agenda of some films to push the floozy on young girls, I guess an MRS. degree is far superior to a PhD in their eyes.

Toto said...

I don't think the film's 'slutty is the way to go' theme was as forced as you suggest. The film, no classic, mind you, aims for a happy medium between girls who are social misfits and those who party all the time. Sure, it glorifies the Playboy image, but as you say that's been watered down significantly over time.

But Faris does deserve a better movie. Can someone please write a good one for her?