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‘House Bunny:’ Humorous and playful

By Staff | Sep 23, 2008

What would be a Playboy bunny’s most dreaded news — a letter from Heffner stating she’s being kicked out of the mansion. 

At the risk of spewing a cliche, Shelly Darlingson (Anna Faris) plays a so-called typical, dumb blonde bimbo who is orphaned at an early age but blossoms in her teens to be discovered for a Girls of GED layout in Playboy. She’s been living with Hef and the gals at the mansion ever since; they are her family.

Hoping for a 27th birthday present of centerfold status, instead she receives a letter telling her she’s 59 in bunny years and has to leave the mansion. After a night in jail mistaken for a hooker, the rejected bunny overhears some attractive young women speaking about “a party.” This leads her to sorority row, where the large homes remind her of the one from which she was ousted.

Determined to move in to one of the sororities, she’s sent to the Zeta’s where the unattractive losers reside, except they need 30 pledges in a short time or their house and charter are history. Several of the sorority sisters have philosophical objections to becoming superficial reflections of the male fantasy, but question whether they should compromise their stringent standard in order to retain their charter?

Representing the opposite of intellectually blonde, Faris audaciously personifies a hot looking woman with little sense of customs beyond the Playmate mansion of material excess. Part of that shortcoming comes from immersion in the Hugh Heffner lifestyle, which leads to numerous chuckles on and off campus, including her talents for throwing parties, teaching flirting and dressing provocatively. She too has the capability and desire of absorbing current events, but she doesn’t face the flip-flop of  her younger, fashion challenged students — is a smart bunny really her?

 Written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith who quashed stereotypes with “Legally Blonde,”  “House Bunny” has both comedic and serious situations. Educating the non-attractive, non-makeup, non-dress and -high heel wearing sorority melds the “sisters,” but a responsibility comes with newfound popularity. As Faris teaches nerdy girls how to attract and socialize with ‘boys,’ she has a dilemma — a dude asks her out and she can’t decide whether to be the “dumb bunny” or an slightly cerebral chick.

Faris has a straight forward lay it on the line style for teaching those residing in the house about the four bareness rules of fashion — arms, legs, belly and cleavage. And to the credit of the producers, all the members do not turn into Cinderellas, some now are dressed up Ugly Betty’s. She also keeps the sexiness on an attention getting, playful benign level that may or may not lead to meaningful or meaningless intimacy.

You’ll identify with many of the awkward hooking up moments as couples to be do the attraction dance subject to sometimes needed and sometimes frustrating advice from coaches and onlookers. The storybook moral regarding beauty beneath the skin weaves its way into the production in a strongly humorous vein that still strikes unconditional golden love themes.

Of course, this downtrodden sorority must battle a pompous group of women for supremacy on campus. That’s likely the most cliched portion; otherwise, “House Bunny” brings laughs with fresh material. Dudes though may find themselves paying more attention to the supply of hotties, so much that they overlook the storyline.

 And I did find one logic question  — since their house parent bunny has no cash and the girls in the house are unpopular, where do they get the bucks for all the new clothes and party supply rentals?

Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com