Thursday, September 4, 2008

The House Bunny

Why would I watch The House Bunny? Well, it was described to me as Revenge of the Nerds with hot chicks, so I did some quick mental math - "I love Revenge of the Nerds. I love hot chicks. All right!" - and decided to take a risk and check it out. Unfortunately, while the basic gist of that synopsis is true, the movie is stuck in a lame-brained, risk-free 1990s comedy vibe that doesn't seem to have noticed at all that the standards of comedy have evolved and changed in the last few years.

Perhaps the most bizarre thing is its PG-13 rating. This is a comedy about a Playboy bunny who gets kicked out of the Playboy mansion and becomes the house mother of a nerdy sorority, whom she helps regain their dignity, regroup, and defeat the popular sorority's attempts to shut them down. So, to restate, it's a college comedy about a Playboy bunny. So why in god's fucking name is this movie PG-13?? It's a potentially funny R-rated peg jammed incredibly awkwardly into a PG-13, preteen friendly hole, and the noncommittal, tapdancing sexual humor, complete lack of nudity, and juvenile elementary school gross-out gags all speak to the fact that this was a poor choice that limited 90% of the narrative's potential. I agree with critics that Judd Apatow's new comedy brand is a bit of an all-boys club, so I think that the idea of giving females a representation in the R-rated ribaldry would have been a great idea and it's a loss they chose not to pursue that here.

No surprise that it's the product of Happy Madison Productions, whose strictly sophomoric brand of comedy has failed to grow up with its audience, repeatedly harkening back to doing their best Dumb & Dumber impersonation whether the film in question is starring Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, (god forbid) Allen Covert, or in this case Anna Faris. Almost every single joke in the entire film is repeated, exhausting drilling that, haha, yes, the protagonist is a dumb blonde! She's flighty and doesn't know things and is slutty and forgets things and haha she's a dumb blonde! While Anna Faris is actually a talented comedic actress she has to fight the script here and just can't come out on top. I won't claim I didn't laugh once but I can honestly say I could count the laughs on one hand.

The one noteworthy bright spot in the film for me was Emma Stone (of Jules in Superbad fame) as one of the nerdy sorority girls. Okay, it's not remotely believable that she wouldn't be able to get a boyfriend because she's obviously attractive by any standard, but she has a very naturalistic and very funny acting style, effortlessly stealing scenes she doesn't even have any good dialogue in. She's an immensely likable screen presence and I hope to see her in other, better-written films in the future - in a world where Lindsay fucking Lohan is given lead role after lead role it would be a shame not to give Emma Stone at least one.

1 Star out of 5

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