C

The House Bunny

Can someone please fire Anna Faris' agent? How much longer does one of this generation's most gifted comediennes—an ebullient ditz in the tradition of Judy Holliday, Lucille Ball, and Goldie Hawn—have to be the best thing about a terrible movie? Other than the barely circulated stoner comedy Smiley Face and her minor turns in Brokeback Mountain and Lost In Translation, Faris has mostly logged time in dire vehicles like The House Bunny, which are dumb-dumb to her smart-dumb. As usual, Faris makes the most of what she's given, here playing a real-life Barbie doll who acts like she was just recently animated, like a skanky Pinocchio discovering the world for the first time. It's a shame her inspired creation gets ground through an insipid '80s-style campus comedy with a tarted-up Pussycat Dolls gloss—but then, that's pretty much Faris' career in a nutshell.

With a kind of deranged bubbliness, Faris stars as a Playboy Bunny who's just turning 27, which she's told is "like 59 in Bunny years." Her advanced age gets her kicked out of the Playboy Mansion, leaving her homeless and astray in a beat-up station wagon. She gets a new purpose and a place to stay†via a job as "house mother" for the Zeta sorority, a collection of campus pariahs in danger of losing their charter if they don't get 30 pledges. Faris convinces the girls to get makeovers and be more social, but they're reluctant to take advice from a woman who takes the word "vapid" as a compliment. Meanwhile, Faris has to undergo an intellectual makeover in order to appeal to a sweet, do-gooder type played by Colin Hanks.

The House Bunny is the ultimate example of the cliché where a dowdy young woman just needs to take off her glasses (or her back brace) and let down her hair to turn into a beautiful swan. But that's just one of a host of musty old tropes peddled by the movie, which is what Legally Blonde might have looked like had it been made in the Revenge Of The Nerds era. In spite of the talented supporting cast (Superbad's Emma Stone, Beverly D'Angelo, Christopher McDonald), 100 percent of the laughs come courtesy of Faris, who's particularly good in the early going, when her babe-in-the-woods act reaches Homer Simpson-like heights of comic obliviousness. As usual, the movie eventually lets her down.

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