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Fred Wolf
Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Hugh M. Hefner, Christopher McDonald, Beverly D'Angelo, Katharine McPhee, Rumer Willis
Writing Credits:
Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith

Brains. Beauty. Bravery. These girls got it all ... They just don't know it yet.

Shelley is living a carefree life until a rival gets her tossed out of the Playboy Mansion. With nowhere to go, fate delivers her to the sorority girls from Zeta Alpha Zeta. Unless they can sign a new pledge class, the seven socially clueless women will lose their house to the scheming girls of Phi Iota Mu. In order to accomplish their goal, they need Shelley to teach them the ways of makeup and men; at the same time, Shelley needs some of what the Zetas have - a sense of individuality. The combination leads all the girls to learn how to stop pretending and start being themselves.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$10.177 million on 2714 screens.
Domestic Gross
$48.237 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $28.96
Release Date: 12/21/2008

• 12 Featurettes
• 10 Deleted Scenes
• Music Video
• Introduction to Music Video
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The House Bunny (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 30, 2008)

If you look up “high concept” in a dictionary, you’ll find the goofy premise of 2008’s The House Bunny listed. In this comedy, we meet Shelley Darlingson (Anna Faris), an orphan who thinks she’s found her “happily ever after” as a resident of the Playboy Mansion.

Alas, her paradise is not to last. Hef evicts her from the Mansion and leaves her homeless. After some problematic encounters, Shelley wanders onto a college campus and meets the unpopular residents of the Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority. Member Natalie (Emma Stone) tells her that the Zetas are close to being shut down due to a lack of pledges.

Shelley convinces Natalie that she can help. Shelley will help turn Zeta into a popular pledge destination if she can be their house mother. We follow her efforts to spice up the nerdy, dowdy Zeta girls as well as aspects of her personal life and a subplot that deals with the truth of her eviction from the Playboy Mansion.

On the cover of Bunny, we’re told it came “from the screenwriters who brought you Legally Blonde”. I’m glad the package mentioned this, for it meant I couldn’t accuse the writers of ripping off the work of others.

It doesn’t mean that I can’t slam writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith of self-plagiarism, though. Any similarities between Bunny and Blonde seem to be less than coincidental; at times you’ll get the impression that Smith and Lutz simply dusted off the old screenplay, made a few changes and bingo!

Actually, I suppose that simplifies things, as Bunny is more than a straight rehash of Blonde. Instead, it melds Blonde with Revenge of the Nerds and tosses in a little Animal House to boot. At all times, Bunny clearly wears its influences on its push-up bra.

Some films can take parts of other films, toss them in the blender, and come out with something interesting. Unfortunately, Bunny isn’t one of those flicks. Somewhere buried beneath all the makeup and cleavage, the movie wants to pretend that it boasts a female empowerment message. After all, both Shelley and the Zeta girls learn valuable lessons about themselves as the story progresses, so I suppose the filmmakers think their work will act as a positive inspiration for young women.

Nonsense. Bunny exists to show a lot of wacky scenarios and plenty of slapstick. The film comes from Adam Sandler’s production company and often plays like one of his flicks. It includes cameos from Sandler regulars like Nick Swardson and Allen Covert, and it throws out plenty of lowest common denomination humor. If Sandler could’ve passed for a hot young woman, he might’ve played the Shelley role instead of Faris.

And maybe we would’ve found more laughs, though probably not. Sandler’s flicks tend to be tremendously hit or miss, so I don’t know if he could’ve redeemed something as “miss” as Bunny. He probably would’ve given the movie more of a fighting chance, though. Faris certainly does little to buoy its prospects. She’s in great shape, though probably not hot enough to really qualify as Playboy material; she could appear in the mag due to her celebrity status but otherwise wouldn’t sniff the centerfold.

Of course, the producers hired Faris more for her acting skills than her looks, which makes it too bad that she doesn’t do more to carry the film with her performance. Faris made about 97 of those Scary Movie stinkers, and her acting style remains stuck in “broad parody mode”. Shelley’s supposed to start out in that fashion but become more human as the film progresses. Faris can’t pull off the shift; Shelley seems just as dopey and superficial at the end as she does at the beginning.

Maybe if Faris made those earlier moments more amusing, I wouldn’t care. However, she never prompts any real amusement, though I suppose I shouldn’t blame the actress. That regurgitated script is more to blame, and I seriously doubt that director Fred Wolf helped. Bunny was his second 2008 stinker, as the terrible Strange Wilderness briefly marred multiplexes briefly sullied multiplexes earlier in the year. Bunny seems more enjoyable than the execrable Wilderness, but that’s like saying whooping cough beats cholera.

To be fair, I don’t think that Bunny is a truly terrible movie. I do feel it lacks any form of inspiration or coherence, however. It simply meanders for 97 minutes and does exceedingly little to amuse us over that span. Perhaps if it tried harder to parody its genre or do something - anything - original, it might’ve been more satisfying. As it stands, the flick simply floats off the screen and never threatens to occupy our attention.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C

The House Bunny appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This turned into a consistently strong presentation.

At no point did any concerns with sharpness materialize. From start to finish, the movie featured concise, accurate elements. A little shimmering cropped up at times, but I saw no jagged edges, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also failed to create concerns, as the movie was free from defects.

As for colors, Bunny went with a bold palette. Shelley’s workd was a candy-colored one, and that spread to the flick’s production design. The film offered consistently dynamic hues; the tones fit the design and looked good. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows showed fine clarity and delineation. Overall, this was a very satisfying transfer.

I thought that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bunny seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides.

Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, though, especially in clubs or at parties; those sequences boasted lively music. However, as most of the movie stayed with limited imaging.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score and songs showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B“ but didn’t particularly impress.

Most of the extras for Bunny come under the featurettes domain. We find 12 of them. These run a total of 53 minutes, 15 seconds, and include “Anna Faris: House Mom” (5:46), “The Girls of Zeta” (5:23), “The Girls Upstairs” (3:08), “Colin Hanks: Mr. Nice Guy” (4:44), “From Song to Set: Katharine McPhee” (4:20), “From Tour Bus to Trailer: Tyson Ritter” (5:14), “Look Who Dropped By” (4:25), “House Bunny Style” (6:07), “Zetas Transformed” (2:32), “Getting Ready for a Party” (3:22), “Calendar Girls” (3:53) and “House Bunny Memories” (4:21). Across these, we hear from producers Allen Covert and Heather Parry, costume designer Mona May, and actors Anna Faris, Katharine McPhee, Colin Hanks, Emma Stone, Kat Dennings, Dana Goodman, Rumer Willis, Kimberly Makkouk, Kiely Williams, Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, Kendra Wilkinson, Tyson Ritter, Matt Leinart, Sean Salisbury, Nick Swardson, Dan Patrick, and Sarah Wright.

We learn about cast, characters and performances, some story elements, costume design, hair and makeup, and general thoughts about the shoot. The first 33 minutes – from “Faris” through “Dropped” – are essentially a waste of time. Those featurettes offer some decent shots from the set and a few quick alternate lines/scenes, but mostly they just show a lot of joking and silliness.

Matters improve a bit once we get to “Style”, but not much. The featurettes include some basic notes about costumes and whatnot, but they remain awfully superficial. With 53 minutes at their disposal, I’d expect the producers of these featurettes to provide something informative, but these pieces are little more than a whole lot of fluff and happy talk.

10 Deleted Scenes go for a total of 11 minutes, 53 seconds. We see a little more of Shelley’s time between her eviction from the Mansion and her arrival at the Zeta house. We also check out a little more of Shelley’s time with the girls and additions to the film’s climax. I actually think the bits that follow Shelley’s departure from the mansion might’ve been good to find in the final film, but the rest of it seems superfluous.

We find a music video for “I Know What Boys Like”. The tune features McPhee the most prominently, but the other Zeta actresses sing a bit too. The video mixes new lip-synch performance bits with shots from the movie. Neither the song nor the video does much for me.

We also get a 29-second introduction to the video. In it, McPhee tells us how great the whole experience was. Music producer Kenna also throws in a line or two. Yawn!

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Center Stage 2: Turn It Up and Hancock. These also appear in the Previews area along with clips for This Christmas, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Made of Honor, Private Valentine: Blonde and Dangerous, 50 First Dates, 21, The Other Boleyn Girl, Persepolis, 10 Items or Less and Blu-Ray Disc. No trailer for Bunny appears here.

Random and pointless, The House Bunny boasts a marginally clever concept but comes with no other positives. The film does little more than steal from other flicks, and it never ties together these elements in an amusing or satisfying manner. The DVD comes with excellent picture quality, good audio, and lackluster extras; the long collection of superficial featurettes seems especially disappointing. Because I expected little from it, I can’t call Bunny itself a disappointment, but I can say that it’s forgettable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5714 Stars Number of Votes: 21
3 3:
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