October 11, 2008
Bunny is a Real Honey
Blessed with a tour-de-force performance from Anna Faris as a Playboy bunny with a heart of gold, Fred Wolf's feel-good comedy promotes messages of solidarity and individualism in the face of peer pressure.
Film-making is always a collaborative effort, relying on the blissful union of director, screenwriter, cast and dozens of unsung heroes behind the scenes.
However, The House Bunny succeeds solely because of its leading lady.
The screenplay by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith is flimsy at best, using Legally Blonde as a framework for its ditzy heroine's metamorphosis, and director Wolf relies on musical montages such as that old chestnut, the makeover, to pad out the running time.
Yet, every time Faris totters into shot on outrageously high heels, we can't help but smile, falling head over heels in love with her innocent character, who believes that "kindness is just love with its work boots on".
Without the actress' comic timing and her boundless energy, The House Bunny would be heading straight to DVD.
Shelley Darlington (Faris) is one of the most popular residents at the Playboy mansion, winning the affections of all the other girls - everyone, except jealous rival Cassandra (Mazur).
Made to believe that Hugh Hefner no longer requires her services, Shelley tearfully flees the mansion and lands the position of house mother to the Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority, which is threatened with closure unless it can attract 30 pledges by the end of the semester.
The dowdy house residents - Carrie Mae (Goodman), Harmony (McPhee), Joanne (Willis), Lilly (Williams), Mona (Dennings), Natalie (Stone) and Tanya (Makkouk) - are resigned to their fate, but Shelley inspires the girls to pull out all the stops to ensure Zeta Alpha Zeta doesn't fall victim to the bulldozers.
In the process, the former Bunny wins the heart of nursing home manager Oliver (Hanks), but Shelley frets that she isn't smart enough for him.
Should she undergo a makeover too, by cramming at the college library?
The House Bunny is a guilty pleasure - a harmless piece of comic fluff that tickles our fancy despite myriad, glaring shortcomings.
Faris is a one-woman comic dynamo, reminiscent of a young Goldie Hawn as her dreamer doles out invaluable fashion advice ("The eyes are the nipples of the face!") or foolishly attempts to recreate Marilyn Monroe's iconic pose from The Seven Year Itch by standing over a hissing steam grate.
There's a sweet rapport with Hanks, one of the few men not to be rendered speechless by Shelley's cleavage.
"What if Oliver's one of those guys who likes to have a conversation before he hooks up?" ponders one of the Zeta Alpha Zeta sisters.
"He's gay?" gasps Shelley.
The rest of the cast pale in comparison, content to inhabit their stereotypes, but are changed for the better by Shelley's inherent goodness.
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