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The House Bunny Review

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Playboy Bunny Shelley (Faris) is bubbly, beautiful and the glue that holds the Playboy Mansion together. But when a rival's scheming means she’s forced to leave, she finds herself becoming House Mother at a sorority comprising a bunch of misfits.

★★★★★

Everyone loves Legally Blonde. Take that movie’s writers, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, for example. They loved it so much that, with The House Bunny, they’ve basically written it again. Lovably ditzy lead character whom everyone thinks is stupid? Check. Fish-out-of-water situation? Uh-huh. Does the lovably ditzy lead character encounter initial scepticism, only to show hidden depths and save the day? Well, of course. In fact, with a couple of tweaks and Reese Witherspoon instead of Anna Faris, this could have been Legally Blonde 3.

However, what was fresh in Legally Blonde is largely tired and predictable here, with telegraphed jokes and a forced sense of jollity (there are three bouncy girls-just-wanna-have fun montages, God help us all) that’s wearying after nine minutes, let alone 90. It’s predictable, banal and tonally unsure: we’re not asking for a realistic depiction of life as a Playboy Bunny (we can get those on the internet) but, apart from one early clunker of a blowjob joke, Shelley (Faris) is a sexual innocent, almost as if Lutz, Smith and director Fred Wolf were afraid to take the story there, lest they muss up the film’s bouffant hairdo.

It’s also an insulting movie, which gives a free pass to the Playboy organisation and Hugh Hefner (who couldn’t be stiffer if he’d OD’d on Viagra), while pushing a banal ‘be yourself’ message that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie with talking squirrels. This message leaves a nasty taste in the mouth - it’s okay to be yourself, girls, as long as you’ve had a makeover. The Spice Girls made bigger strides for feminism than this tosh.

Thank God, then, for Faris, who shines, while the rest of a fine cast - Emma Stone, Colin Hanks, Kat Dennings - flail wildly. Faris, who’s been polishing comedic turds for years with the Scary Movie series, is fantastic and fearless: whether it’s being ditzy and frothy or pulling a series of pratfalls, she picks the film up by the scruff of the neck and wrings laughs out of situations where laughs should fear to tread. For her gusto alone, she deserves to undergo the same career transformation that Legally Blonde gave Reese Witherspoon - we just wish it could have been with a better film.

God bless Anna Faris, who’s so good that the second star at the bottom of this review is entirely down to her. Otherwise, this Bunny would be headed for the vet.

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