What Do The Critics Say?
"For something that looked as potentially stupid as it did in the trailers, you'll be laughing a heck of a lot. Thematically, it's also a lot smarter than most comedies of its type. Anna Faris is really funny."
Micheal Dance THE CINEMA SOURCE
"Strictly for blondes who like pink, this ultra girlie chick flick meets the criteria for its target audience with likeable characters searching for acceptance as they are. If you take the film on its own level, it is a lot of fun, and teenage girls. It's all pretty pink and predictable."
Louise Keller URBAN CINEFILE
"Faris fans should see it for her showcase, and nonfans might convert by the end. In "The House Bunny", Anna Faris looks significantly more glammed up than when she came into movies as the star of "Scary Movie". Years of scene-stealing in both indie movies and lowbrow comedies have refined Faris's approachable goofiness, and she finds an original, star-quality approach to playing a cheesy sex bomb. Emma Stone plays Natalie, the girls' ringleader, and finds the right note of believable nerdy awkwardness. As in "Superbad", you can almost believe she's geeky and down-to-earth."
Jesse Hassenger FILMCRITIC
"A rare female-driven light entertainment that emphasizes comedy over romance. Does serve as a solid showcase for the Goldie Hawn meets Jennifer Coolidge charm of Faris."
Geoff Berkshire METROMIX
"Anna Faris has been the saving grace of some truly terrible films, like "Scary Movie" and "The Hot Chick." When you get beyond her adorable looks, Faris is a hilarious comic actress. What sells the movie is not only the eye candy, but the fact that Faris is so funny."
Daniel M. Kimmel WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
"Anna Farris is so perfect in the title role that she alone makes this a movie worth watching. Sometimes the casting of a certain actor in a role elevates a movie from ordinary to special. Such is the case with the casting of Anna Farris as "The House Bunny". Anna Farris is perfect as the not so dumb blonde heroine of the film."
Jackie K Cooper JACKIECOOPER.COM
"Formulaic but fun, thanks to Faris. The young actress oozes charm in the right role and when she's on, you can't take your eyes off her. This is lightweight fare and its audience knows a good date movie when it sees one."
Charles Koplinski ILLINOIS TIMES
"It's a bit derivative, but issues of originality aside, I've got to admit that I found this late-summer comedy to be quite charming, and frequently very funny. As good as the cast is as a whole, this is really Anna Faris’ movie, and she is delightful to watch."
Sean McBride SEAN THE MOVIE GUY
"Puts a cheerful spin on its many cliches. This particular wheel hasn't been reinvented, but at least it gets a nice fresh coat of bubblegum-pink paint and a star to pilot it with aplomb."
Nathan Lee NEW YORK TIMES
"Not every young actress can carry an entire movie on her own shoulders, and even fewer can pull it off when the story is so forumlaic. Happily for this silly but endearing comedy about a cast-off Playboy Bunny who finds herself playing house mother to a dying sorority sisters, Anna Faris is that rare commodity. She's a true star."
Ken Fox TV Guides Movie Reviews
The Inside Story
"What happens to the people who have lived in the surreal Playboy Mansion world, where it’s parties and fun all the time? And why do they leave that world; do they get too old, or are they simply ready to move on to a different phase in their lives?" asks Anna Faris, the star of Sony Pictures comedy "The House Bunny", which focuses on Shelley Darlingson, a Bunny who is facing that exact crisis. Screenwriters Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz previously the screenwriters of the hit movie "Legally Blonde"; were, first and foremost, intrigued by the possibility of working with Faris. "We had just seen "Just Friends" and we both really enjoyed her performance in that movie," says McCullah Lutz ("She's the Man"). "So we called and set up a meeting to have coffee." "We kind of stalked her, basically," says Smith. "And she didn’t know it." At the coffee meeting, the writers and the star discussed an idea for the character of Shelley, the Playboy Bunny who changes her life. "Shelley has spent her whole adult life living in the Mansion, but when she gets booted out, she’s completely adrift. We took that idea and spent a few months ruminating over where she would land, and we finally came up with the idea that she should enter the world of a sorority: a misfit sorority that desperately needs her help," says McCullah Lutz. When Shelley first meets the girls, they are in danger of losing their house, due to a dearth of pledges. In fact, they need thrity pledges or the house will be pulled down and put to a better use. "Shelley has this idea that if she changes the Zetas into super hot girls, then they will be able to get guys; and if they can get guys, they can get pledges and keep their house," Faris explained. "She teaches the girls how to be cool and cute and popular; that’s definitely true: but for Shelley, it’s all about self-confidence," McCullah Lutz adds. But the Zetas are not the only ones who make transformations. At the beginning of the film, most people, including Shelley herself, see the Bunny as 'just a Bunny'. According to McCullah Lutz, "Shelley defined herself as a Bunny and thought that was all she was capable of. She only defined herself in terms of her value as an object for male eyes. But then she learns she has more inherent talents and a bigger purpose in life than just being a Bunny." "It’s not just a message for girls, but everyone learning to accept themselves and love themselves for who they are," says Faris, who played Lashawn Malone alongside the late Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain". "When we first meet Shelley she may think she's the hottest girl, but she learns to realize that how you look is not important: it’s about how you look at yourself." After Smith and McCullah Lutz worked out the story beats and the characters, they took their act on the road, pitching the story with Faris. "It was the best way to pitch. When you have the actual movie star in the room with you, the studio sees the movie coming alive. It’s much better than having them listen to Kirsten and I try to do the parts," McCullah Lutz said. The trio landed in the office of producer Heather Parry ("The Longest Yard"), who works at Happy Madison Productions. Parry, a fan of Anna and of the "Legally Blonde" writers, liked the idea, and took it to producing partners Adam Sandler ("You Don't Mess with the Zohan" & "Click") and Jack Giarraputo ("The Longest Yard" & "50 First Dates").
They had already worked with Faris on the 2002 comedy "The Hot Chick" and were huge fans of the actress. They brought it to their home studio at Columbia Pictures. Parry says that although The House Bunny is Happy Madison’s first female-driven comedy, it shares the same underlying comedy goal. "It’s funny and it has heart. Every girl goes through a time in her life in which she tries on new looks and new attitudes, and The House Bunny looks at that time in a really funny and charming way." To direct the film, the producers tapped Fred Wolf. Producer Allen Covert ("I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry") says that the Happy Madison team had known Wolf for years, since he had written for Sandler at "Saturday Night Live". "You might not think that Fred would be the type of director to helm this female driven comedy, but when he was at 'SNL' he transitioned from the Sandler/Farley/Spade/Schneider years into the Molly Shannon/Cheri Oteri years. All of a sudden, that show had a lot of women cast members. Fred’s strength as a director for this film was his background writing for and working with female comedians." "It can be hard out there for girls," says Wolf whose writing credits include "Black Sheep" (1996) and "Without a Paddle" (2004). "They’re constantly bombarded by messages: how to dress, what makeup to wear, but also how to behave and how to think. I grew up with three brothers and come from the primarily male-dominated stand-up world, but now, I have two young daughters and I have found how important it is for them to shrug off those messages and believe in themselves and love themselves for the people they are inside. I hope this movie contributes a little to helping them understand how important that is." With financial backing, a script, Faris and the producers onboard the next task was to cast the film. To play the hapless sorority sisters of Zeta Alpha Zeta, the filmmakers turned to a group of young stars on the rise. Emma Stone ("Superbad") was cast as Natalie, the president of the Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority. "Natalie might be a little uncomfortable, but she has a heart of gold," says Stone, "and she certainly sees through Shelley’s bunny exterior to understand Shelley’s heart very well." "We’d just seen an early screening of "Superbad", so we were excited to have Emma come in and audition," says Parry ("Get Rich or Die Tryin"). Stone actually read for two other parts: the first read was for one of the Phi Iota Mu girls, and the other was for the role of Harmony. Parry says it was after Stone had left the auditions that they thought "she’d be great as Natalie. She’d already left the Sony lot, so we made her turn around and come back. She was nervous: she’d parked somewhere restricted and the whole time was afraid that her car was going to get towed. It worked out for her: she got the part." "It was fun to undergo the transformation, from the grays and navys that Natalie wears at the beginning, to the hair extensions and makeup and fun costumes," says Stone, who can next be seen in "The Rocker". There was one and only one person who the filmmakers considered for the role of Natalie’s sorority sister, Mona. Kat Dennings ("Raise Your Voice") played the part during an early table read at a time when the only other actor cast was Anna Faris. She was so great at the table read, the producers stopped looking. "Mona has an issue with males," Dennings revealed. "They make her very uncomfortable and she makes them very uncomfortable."
Making her motion picture debut is 2006 American Idol runner-up, Katharine McPhee. Her character, Harmony, is a very pregnant, and very flower-child, sorority sister. She is always seeing the best in people and always being shocked by how cruel others can be sometimes. "She’s supposed to be this hippie chick, but I think she’s just free spirited, which is definitely a side to my personality," McPhee says. "Katharine McPhee is obviously a great singer," an enthusiastic McCullah Lutz sais, "but she’s a good actress, too." McPhee not only sings in a Karaoke segment but can be heard performing "I Know What Boys Like" during the end credits. To play the role of Joanne, a shy girl in a back brace, the filmmakers looked to a member of the next generation of Hollywood’s A-list: Rumer Willis, daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. "Joanne has always hidden behind her brace," says Willis. "Even though she doesn't need it anymore, it's kept her from having to show the world her true self." Willis ("Striptease" & "Hostage") recalled one very funny incident involving the brace. "At one point, we were rehearsing: I was lying on a blanket, and I couldn’t stand up. Fred comes over, and goes 'Are you serious or are you just kidding?' I was like a turtle on its back, arms waving helplessly, until somebody helped me up." Faris says that as filming continued, each of the girls naturally fell into the roles of the characters they were playing in the film. "I felt like a house mom," she said. "I was a little concerned initially that maybe with all the girls, some of them wouldn’t get along, but everyone really did seem to love each other and everyone brought their own uniqueness to the table." Heather Parry agreed. "They all championed one another, which can sometimes be rare in Hollywood. While we were shooting the film, Emma Stone had "Superbad" coming out and the girls went to the premiere to surprise her." Colin Hanks (Untraceable") was cast as Oliver, the sweet-natured administrator of a nursing home. "Shelley instantly falls for Oliver’s kindness and his charm. I always imagine that she never met anybody like that," says Faris ("Waiting" & "Scary Movie" 1,2,3 & 4). "He’s not the kind of guy that hangs out at the Playboy Mansion." Hanks says Oliver had never met anyone quite like Shelley. "They go on a series of dates that don’t really go very well because Shelley is constantly trying to impress Oliver." Making his motion picture debut in The House Bunny is Tyson Ritter, lead singer of the band 'The All-American Rejects'. Ritter takes on the role of Colby, the object of Natalie’s affections from afar. He describes his involvement with the film this way: "Eight beautiful women every day for two weeks. Paradise!" The producers scored a huge coup when Alta Loma Entertainment, a subsidiary of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. and producers of "The Girls Next Door", secured Hugh Hefner's participation in the filming and opened up the legendary Playboy Mansion to the production. "Hef was awesome. We got to shoot in his bedroom. I sat on his bed," says Covert ("Big Daddy" & "Mr Deeds"). "We were so thankful that Hef let us use the Mansion to shoot," a beaming McCullah Lutz said. "It’s just a bonus that he’s playing himself. I think this is the first time he’s ever played himself in a movie." Also in the cast are Beverly D’Angelo (Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay"; Christopher McDonald ("Rumor Has It"); Dana Goodman ("Barbershop"); and making their film debut, Kimberly Makkouk & Kiely Williams.
Synopsis
Playboy Bunny Shelley, is living a carefree life until she is suddenly and inexplicably given her marching orders in a letter that tells her she must leave the Playboy Mansion. It's a huge shock for the likeable Shelley who was convinced that she was about to be offered a centrefold spread. With nowhere to go, fate delivers her into the lives of a group of socially challenged university 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, Shelley needs to pull out all her playmate tricks and give them a crash course in the ways of makeup and men. Meanwhile, Shelley learns the hard way that she needs some of what the girls have; a sense of individuality. When sexy meets smart they all learn to stop pretending and start being themselves.
The Verdict
"Anna Faris is an energetic, talented and good-looking package that it seems, is being typically wasted. While I'm not a huge fan of the "Scary Movie" franchise, in which she made a huge name for herself playing Cindy Campbell, I am a big Faris fan. I thought she gave a good account of herself when she co-starred with Ryan Reynolds in "Waiting" and "Just Friends". For those who interpret "The House Bunny" is just another air-head chick flick, the message is, 'think again'. It's actually a lot of fun, thanks to a super performance from Faris, who in the main, keeps the ship afloat. There's alot to like about "The House Bunny", especially it's strong message which is aimed fairly and squarely at women. Colin Hanks ("King Kong") is another talent going to waste. He certainly deserves meatier roles. It must be hard for this young man. After all, having one of the greatest actors of the modern era for a father, who also happens to be a two time Oscar winner, would cast a long shadow over every move you made. He like Faris deserves better. I hope fortune favours them both, sooner rather than later. An amiable support cast adds to the fun of "The House Bunny" which was shot in part at the Playboy Mansion. And yes, Hef does put in an appearance. Well worth a look at. Great for a date movie. Recommended. 3 1/2 STARS."
Crew Bytes
"THE HOUSE BUNNY" was .......
directed by Fred Wolf
["Strange Wilderness"]; screenplay by Karen McCullah Lutz ["Ella Enchanted" and "She's the Man"] and Kirsten Smith ["Ella Enchanted" and "She's the Man"]; art direction by John Chichester ["Sexual Outlaws", "Girl Fever" and "Prey for Rock & Roll"]; costume design by Mona May ["Never Been Kissed", "The Haunted Mansion" and "Enchanted"]; production design by Missy Melissa Stewart ["Legally Blonde I & II", "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "Monster-in-Law"]; edited by Debra Chiate ["Clueless", "Never Been Kissed" and "Two Weeks"]; director of photography Shelly Johnson ["Jurassic Park III", "The Last Castle" and "Sky High"]; original music by Waddy Wachtel ["Up in Smoke", "Joe Dirt" and "The Benchwarmers"].
Who's Who
Anna Faris
Colin Hanks
Emma Stone
Kat Dennings
Katharine McPhee
Rumer Willis
Kiely Williams
Dana Goodman
Kimberly Makkouk
Monet Mazur
Tyson Ritter
Hugh M Hefner
Christopher McDonald
Beverly D'Angelo
Leslie Del Rosario
Sarah Wright
Rachel Specter
Lauren Michelle Hill
Hiromi Oshima
Sara Jean Underwood
Julia Lea Wolov
Angela V Shelton
Jonathan Loughran
Owen Benjamin
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Shelley
COliver
Natalie
Mona
Harmony
Joanne
Lilly
Carrie Mae
Tanya
Cassandra
Colby
Himself
Dean Simmons
Mrs Hagstrom
Sienna
Ashley
Courtney
Lauren (Playmate)
Hiromi (Playmate)
Sara (Playmate)
Sweet Prostitute
Mean Prostitute
Tall Prostitute
Marvin
Run Time 97 minutes
Rated M [AUST]
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