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Case Number 15274

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The House Bunny (Blu-Ray)

Sony // 2008 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // December 19th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Franck Tabouring's got it all, and he knows it.

Editor's Note

Our review of The House Bunny, published January 16th, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

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

Opening Statement

If you fancy Anna Faris and always wanted to see her running around an entire movie with barely any clothes on, this one's for you. In Fred Wolf's The House Bunny Faris stars as an eccentric Playgirl who transforms a rundown sorority into her own little Playboy mansion. She injects plenty of energy into her silly role, but everything around her falls apart early on.

Facts of the Case

Meet Shelley Darlingson (Anna Faris, Scary Movie), a happy Playboy bunny who adores her comfortable lifestyle and whose biggest dream is to become the next centerfold. Somehow though, that's not meant to be, because on her twenty-seventh birthday, Shelley is unexpectedly kicked out of the mansion for being too old.

Now a homeless stranger in a new world, Shelley soon ends up on a college campus, where she eagerly takes on the job as the housemother of Zeta, an unpopular, geeky sorority that risks losing its charter unless its members receive enough pledges by the time the new semester kicks off. What seems like an impossible mission at first is no big problem for Shelley, who's got all it takes to turn a bunch of freaks into the school's hottest sisters.

The Evidence

As the facts of the case already reveal, the main story line of The House Bunny is not exactly new or exciting. In fact, the film's plot is almost identical to that of Sydney White, in which Amanda Bynes played a college student who helps a group of dorks keep their condemned house. Failing to stuff a script like this one with fresh ideas and simply rehashing previously covered material are certainly not the best ways to create an entertaining comedy, but I guess screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith (who also wrote Legally Blonde) simply didn't care.

Formulaic and predictable, The House Bunny doesn't have much to rely on besides a handful of successful jokes and a few solid enough performances. Most of the plot focuses on how Shelley gives the weird girls of Zeta a total makeover by teaching them all her tricks, encouraging them to find their inner strength, and boosting their self-confidence. At the same time, the geeks teach Shelley that big boobs and pathetic sex talk don't always get you what you really want. Shelley has a crush on Oliver (Colin Hanks), a guy who actually has standards and isn't charmed by the bunny's brainless talking. It's something Shelley doesn't quite understand at first, but with the help of her new friends and a little bit of education, she quickly gets it.

Like many other mediocre comedies, The House Bunny also includes that one unnecessary subplot that's supposed to hold the story together and give all these remodeled characters a chance to prove what they've learned throughout the film. In this case, Shelley and her girls launch into a nasty feud with the members of the campus' most popular sorority, a bunch of uptight party poopers who aren't pleased with Shelley's arrival and will do anything to stop Zeta from getting the pledges they need. Sadly enough, the whole thing is never funny or engaging enough, and the characters in question are as bland as a piece of toast. That said, the plot does have occasional moments of potential, but as expected, they quickly fall victim to mindless slapstick or moronic dialogue.

Despite all my complaints, the movie dodges major boredom for one reason and one reason only: Anna Faris. She injects her character with plenty of energy and charm, and she undoubtedly delivers the film's funniest one-liners. Her character may be extremely dumb, but Faris brings along the required enthusiasm, which helps loosen up the film's atmosphere and eventually makes it enjoyable enough to sit through. Because she is stealing the show, however, there is simply not enough room for the supporting cast to step forward. Emma Stone delivers a noticeable performance, but that's it.

There's nothing special about the film's look per se, but if you can't live without high definition anymore, this Blu-ray disc certainly boasts strong technical aspects. The 2.40:1 non-anamorphic transfer delivers a sharp and thoroughly clean picture, while the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio transfer offers viewers an excellent sound quality. So yeah, Faris and her extravagant outfits do look quite sharp in HD.

The positive thing about the special features on this disc is that they come in high definition as well. The negative thing is that not many of them are particularly interesting. Besides ten deleted scenes and Katherine McPhee's music video for "I Know What Boys Like," the bonus material also includes twelve short featurettes. The most informative is "Anna Faris: House Mom," a 5-minute behind-the-scenes look during which cast and crew members talk about the original idea behind the film, Faris' main character, and the challenges she encountered before and during the making of The House Bunny. The remaining pieces focus mostly on the other characters in the movie, with Faris' co-actresses, Colin Hanks, and other members of the cast talking about how much fun it was shooting this thing.

I always expect the special content on a disc to offer me at least a little bit of informative material about the making of the film. While a couple of these featurettes do focus on things like costumes and the setup of one or two specific scenes, none of them are particularly enlightening. Although the little booklet that comes with the DVD includes a note about Sony's upcoming Blu-ray titles having advanced menus and functions (i.e., bookmarking scenes, picture-in-picture view), this disc only features BD Live with rather disappointing extras.

Closing Statement

If you've already seen this flick and loved it, this Blu-ray edition definitely gives you your money's worth. For someone like me, who only halfway enjoyed The House Bunny, the quality of the technical aspects on this disc clearly surpasses the quality of the feature film. Need I say more?

The Verdict

Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 92
Audio: 92
Extras: 75
Acting: 79
Story: 70
Judgment: 74

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
Audio Formats:
• TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
• TrueHD 5.1 Surround (French)
• TrueHD 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
Subtitles:
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Indonesian
• Korean
• Portuguese
• Spanish
• Thai
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Genres:
• Blu-ray
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• 12 Featurettes
• Music Video

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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