Harlowe to Monroe, Mansfield to Hawn to.. .. . Anna Faris?
Every generation needs its dumb movie blondes. Might the star of those progressively worse Scary Movies and The House Bunny be ours?
The House Bunny is a real tour de Faris. She plays Shelley, who has just aged out of her right to residency at the Playboy Mansion. She's 27 ("59 in Bunny years!"). And she will never realize her lifelong dream -- to be a centerfold.
"It says, 'I'm naked, in the middle of a magazine. Un-FOLD me!'. "
So poor Shelley is homeless, or she is until she recognizes her tribe, wandering into another mansion. But she can't become a shallow, dizzy sorority girl without enrolling. She can, however, become house mother to the Zekes, the lowliest sorority on campus, where misfits, social lepers, nerds and losers reside.
But not enough of them, it turns out. They're about to lose their charter and their house. Shelley has to inject a little Playboy Bunny sex appeal and positive thinking into the Zekes, make them attractive to boys and "cool" enough for girls on campus to want to pledge there. And they have to manage this while the Mean Girl sorority across the street works to sabotage their every move.
Yes, the plot was exhausted when Amanda Bynes & Co. trotted it out for Sydney White. What that failed farce didn't have was Faris. She blinks vapidly and works the push-up bra. "I'm not a prostitute," she has to explain.
The sorority, a collection of "types," rejects her, at first. Feminist Goth girl Mona (Kat Dennings) lays it out. Shelley is just "a reflection of the male fantasy" girl, and Mona doesn't want to be made over that way. But Natalie (Emma Stone), Joanne (Rumer Willis, daughter of Bruce) and the others vote her down. They want to be what boys want, even if it means acting dizzy. They all get makeovers, starting with eye-liner.
"The eyes are the nipples of the face," Shelley explains, cutting to the chase. Clothes? Think "skimp-ilyzing." Come out of your cocoons, girls.
"You're a butterfly now, not an earthworm!"
Shelley, meanwhile, falls for a pleasant nursing-home operator (Colin Hanks, charisma-impaired son of Tom). If only she weren't an utter dimwit.
"So I have to learn things about things and stuff?" The girls educate her, and she helps the girls tart up.
This film from the Adam Sandler fun factory starts with a series of obnoxious, dated stereotypes, and never quite flips them into something positive. Faris came up with the concept, but the folks she entrusted with it were more interested in getting full cooperation from Playboy and Hugh Hefner, so the age-out-of-the-mansion bit is a red herring. Can't have a Playboy-sanctioned comedy slander Playboy with unpleasant truths. Faris is this month's Playboy cover girl. Assorted real-life bunnies (plastic, in the worst sense of the word) and Sandler hangers-on (sports dye-job Dan Patrick) have cameos.
But Faris gives it her all, and Emma Stone (Superbad) picks up her vibe and matches her, vamp for silly vamp. Their scenes together are a yin-and-yang stitch. And Faris reminds another generation that it's not just about peroxide, workouts and waxing. It takes talent and brains to play this dumb.