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.
"I'm an expert in parties and boys. I'm a Bunny! Men write to me from prison--sometimes in their own blood!" So declares ex-Playboy Bunny Shelley, tossed out of the Mansion by a rival for her advanced age (27--"59 in bunny years," she's told). As played by the utterly fearless and appealing Anna Faris, Shelley becomes an unlikely post-feminist heroine, who finds a great use for her not-too-considerable expertise: being sexy. With nowhere else to live, Shelley finds herself as the house mother for a dying sorority, the Zetas, who are the audience for the rallying cry above. And the slightly misfit sisters, though wary, end up giving Shelley a sisterhood she could never have built back at the Grotto. To help build up the sorority, Shelley gives the young women her own peculiar tutorials in charm school--helping them raise their campus profile and recruit new pledges in the process. "When I'm done, every girl on campus will want to pledge Zeta!" Ignore her at your peril, girls. If the formula is a bit predictable, the pace is lively and the cast, headed by the wide-eyed Faris, is aces. American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee is a natural on camera, as is Rumer Willis, daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. The supporting cast includes the capable Colin Hanks and Beverly D'Angelo, and a bit too much screen time for the real-life Hugh Hefner, who maybe should have stayed on the set of The Girls Next Door. Still, Faris channels the cheerful, girly determination of Reese Witherspoon's Elle Woods--no surprise since The House Bunny was cowritten by Kirsten Smith, who wrote Legally Blonde. Fans of silly romances, hop to it.--A.T. Hurley
Stills from House Bunny (click for larger image)