The very idea of a B-cupped Playboy Playmate may seem more like science fiction than comedy, but in "The House Bunny" Anna Faris shows that the all natural approach works just fine.
Faris plays Shelley Darlington, a ditzy playmate-to-be thrown out of the mansion right after her 27th birthday for being too old, which we're told is "59 in Bunny years." Poor Shelley is then thrust into a world where a girl can't even service a cop to get out of a ticket. This is definitely science fiction.
She stumbles onto a row of sorority houses and thinks they're like mini Playboy mansions. Shelley comes upon Zeta Alpha Zeta, a house of geeks that's about to lose it's charter for lack of pledges. The Zetas need more help than an unemployed Katrina victim and Shelley is all too eager to assist. Armed with only short shorts, a water bra and such sagely mottos as "The eyes are the nipples of the soul" and "kindness is just love with its work boots on," she sets out to help the social misfits find their inner playmate. However, that's no small task.
The Zetas include Carrie-Mae, an amazon with a voice as deep as existentialism who's stayed in school for nine years to avoid having to go back to her trailer park, Joanne (Rumer Willis), is in a back brace with more metal than Iron Man, a very pierced goth girl (Kat Dennings), an extremely pregnant Harmony (Katherine McPhee) and a mute who communicates via text.
Hooker heels and short shorts aside, the message of female empowerment should be of no surprise given that it's written by scribes Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith who gave us "Legally Blonde." Lutz and Smith not only follow the formula of the hot chick making over the geeks, but the Zetas in turn teach Shelley how to attract a man (played smoothly by Colin Hanks) when the sexy tricks fail. Shelley seems almost bewildered when she asks the Zetas "So I have to learn things about things -- and stuff? About -- topics?"
Faris channels her inner Goldie Hawn and makes us cheer for Shelley's makeover as much as the Zetas ultimate makeunder. With an almost down home sweetness and humor not seen since "Forrest Gump," "The House Bunny" will remind you that it's not the cup size, but the size of the heart behind it that matters.
Billy Tatum gives "The House Bunny" 4 and a half (out of 5) stars
"The House Bunny." MPAA rating: PG-13 for sex-related humor, partial nudity and brief strong language. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.