The House Bunny (review)

Sex Bomb

You’ve heard the term sex bomb. Now hear this: The House Bunny is a nuclear sex bomb, a radioactive weapon deadly to all forms of life except cockroaches and — maybe — morons as catastrophically stupid as the Playboy bunny Anna Faris “portrays” here.
Oh, it’s supposed to be adorable, how stupid Faris’s (Scary Movie 4) Shelley is, which is quite stupid indeed (she’s stunned to discover that a letter written to her contains more beyond the “Dear Shelley”). But she’s “sexy,” too, in exactly the kind of way a Playboy bunny is allegedly “sexy”: Barbie-doll bimbo and proud of it… and 75 percent naked all the time. She’s naive in a way that’s meant to be charming, but it’s a disturbing kind of innocence, seeing as how she has lived in the dubious shelter of the Playboy Mansion for years: when a cop stops her for suspected drunk driving and tells her she’s gonna have to “blow into this,” well, she takes it the way any girl would who believes, apparently, that a woman’s proper place is on her knees in front of a man.

So cute! Not! Now, Shelley’s been kicked out of Hef’s house for being too old, at 27. (That plot predicament, however, later takes a turn that may be the lowlight in a script full of jaw-dropping awkwardness and other awfulness that no purportedly professional weavers of fictional stories should have tried to get away with. Then again, perhaps the only decent script screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith had in them was Legally Blonde, the trough of which they return to here; they also wrote Ella Enchanted, which is one of the worst movies ever made. Not counting this one.) So Shelley stumbles her way into a “job” as the “house mother” at a sorority house at the nearby unnamed college: the Zeta Whatevers are a collection of hideous stereotypes of uncool femininity… which is to say that they represent the normal range of womanhood that falls outside the tiny Barbie-bimbo minority. They’re “losers” and “misfits” because they’re tall, short, skinny, plump, quiet, rowdy… oh, and smart. Which is, as any self-respecting woman knows, is the death kiss for femininity.

Now, The House Bunny appears to think it’s being “complicated” and “deep” when it has Shelley remind brainy Zeta Natalie (Emma Stone, also appearing currently in The Rocker) that “boys don’t like girls who are too smart.” See, we’re supposed to see that Shelley is wrong, and Shelley is supposed to be discovering that she is wrong, and all through the screamingly obvious plot “twist” of Shelley’s cheerfully slutting up the nerdy Zeta girls so that boys will like them. But this unbelievably vapid excuse for a comedy does nothing to actually support such a contention — that Shelley is wrong about what boys like — and instead offers up these women as willing sacrificial lambs to the satan of conformity that demands they adhere to a brand of “acceptable” appearance and behavior that is so narrow that it’s all but impossible for any mere mortal to fall within it.

“Don’t be anything but hot, woman,” is the message of Bunny, though it does grudgingly acknowledge that if a gal is so stubborn enough that she insists upon “being herself,” it might possibly be okay as long as she makes sure “herself” is not too weird. As long as she remembers to be “hot” as well. And guys who say they want someone to talk to… they’re lying.

It’s all a sea of scary sadness — it even includes the contemporary studio comedy’s de rigueur reminder that women’s bodies are weird and disgusting unless men are looking at them, with the added bonus of including women ourselves among those repulsed by our own bodies. That’s a new low for the genre, and perhaps is something Bunny should be congratulated on.

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