Blu-ray
Worth a Look
3 stars
Amazon
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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Worth a Look

The House Bunny

Street Date:
December 19th, 2008
Reviewed by:
Peter Bracke
Review Date: 1
December 17th, 2008
Movie Release Year:
2008
Studio:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Length:
97 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

It's a testament to the underrated Anna Faris that her considerable comedic skills can rescue a film as thoroughly dopey as 'The House Bunny.' Part 'Legally Blonde,' part 'Revenge of the Nerds,' part 'Sorority Boys,' it's a patch-work of borrowed concepts and half-baked ideas that offers literally nothing we haven't seen before. But the film is so eager to please, and Faris is so game to make a complete fool of herself to get a laugh, that it's virtually impossible not to want to hug 'The House Bunny.' This film would be absolutely nothing without Faris -- and that's a compliment.

Faris stars as Shelley Darlingson, a 27-year-old Playboy bunny living a life of privilege at the Mansion. One of Hugh Hefner's inner-circle, she spends her days shopping, serving drinks at parties and, she thinks, landing her first-ever Miss November centerfold spread. That is, until a rival gets her ejected from the mansion ("27 is 59 in bunny years," she's told), leaving Shelley bewildered with nowhere to go. Eventually she winds up walking the streets of a local college campus, and stumbles into an open house at a sorority. There she hits upon a new career path -- she'll become a "den mother" to the Zeta house, and in the process transform the campus' biggest band of misfits into the school's most popular sorority.

As 'House Bunny' begins, it appears to be headed in a direction rather fresh for a dumb high-concept Hollywood comedy. Faris' natural wit and impeccable sense of timing (which she honed in the otherwise dreadful 'Scary Movie' series) is a sublime contrast to the bubble-headed denizens of the Playboy mansion. She even manages to upstage Hef himself, who appears in a cameo looking mummified. The idea of Faris putting a modern, skewered spin on the culture of the "Girls Next Door" is promising, but unfortunately the movie quickly abandons this story, and settles into a far more pedestrian and benign feel-good teen college comedy.

By the time Shelley arrives at the sorority and sets about reinventing the Zeta house as a band of mean girls, we immediately sense where the story is headed. Faris is able to elevate 'The House Bunny' above a cheap 'Legally Blonde' rip-off thanks to her irrepressible spirit, but it's hard not to feel a bit cheated by the sense of deja vu the story saddles her with. All the plot "twists" are easy to spot a mile away. We can easily predict that Shelley will teach each of the girls lessons in self-esteem and beauty, only to see her creations eventually succumb to the same narcissism and peer pressure they initially rallied against. Thus 'The House Bunny' quickly turns into a series of make-over montages, with each of the girls getting their own little arcs that, if all rather cute, don't add up to much of substance.

Worse is the shoe-horned in romance with nice guy Oliver (Colin Hanks). One wonders what sort of female empowerment message screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith were aiming for, as Shelley (however airheaded she may be) goes from single-minded career gal to desperately trying to validate herself via a man in a matter of seconds. Granted, the scenes between Shelley and Oliver can be charming, but Faris and Hanks have little to no chemistry together and the moral message is queasy. (And a note to geeks everywhere -- if Hanks can land a hottie like Faris, there's hope for you yet.) Even a last-minute, 'Revenge of the Nerds' like campus battle against a fellow, popular sorority to save the Zeta house can't save 'The House Bunny's plot from proving hopelessly derivative.

Yet, despite such a weak story, 'The House Bunny' made me laugh all the way through. And that's thanks to Faris. She's simply hilarious in just about every scene, and never misses a beat. Her way of spinning silly lines, her Yoda-channeled-through-Pamela-Anderson-speak, and the obvious intelligence with which she plays a dimwit, elevates the cinematic dumb blonde to the level of art form. I'll give credit to Faris, who is also co-producer on 'the House Bunny,' for taking charge of her career and finding her own vehicles in male-driven Hollywood. Let's just hope that the solid (if unspectacular) box office success of 'The House Bunny' finally allows her to land the bigger and better roles she seeks. She deserves it.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'The House Bunny' gets a nice 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (2.35:1). It's as bright, colorful and bouncy as a house bunny deserves.

The film's day-glow visual intentions are immediately clear. The color palette is vivid and saturated, with lots of girly pinks, oranges, and greens. Fleshtones are, surprisingly, accurate. The super-clean source has nice blacks and pleasant contrast, which result in a fine level of visible detail and a fair amount of depth. The transfer is sharp as a tack, too, and the encode clean. If I have any complaints, its that blacks could be a little stronger and contrast less flat, which keeps the image from truly popping like the best high-def I've seen. But 'The House Bunny' remains a sparkly transfer that is sure to please.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Sony presents 'The House Bunny' in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit). It's an undemanding film sonically, but sounds just swell on Blu.

'The House Bunny' is never a particularly active mix, with limited surrounds that only pop up on occasion for rather silly comic moments. Atmosphere is meager, as is score bleed (even the pop-rock songs on the soundtrack sound front-heavy). The track is clean and polished, however, with clear and well-balanced dialogue. Low bass has little to do but supports the action well. Don't look for any source issues, either, as this is as slick a mix as you'd expect for a studio release. 'The House Bunny' sounds just fine.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Sony has put together a straightforward if entertaining batch of supplements for 'The House Bunny.' Most of the video materials are in 1080i/AVC MPEG-4, with the same subtitle options as the main feature.

  • Featurettes (HD, 53 minutes) - Rather than bill the disc's making-of featurettes as a single doc, Sony has split up what is essentially a single 53-minute piece into a dozen parts. Loaded with on-set interviews, film clips and a smattering of behind-the-scenes footage, this is standard EPK stuff, but well done. Anna Faris is the focus, of course, as both star and producer, but there are also contributions from director Fred Wolf, the production team, and all of the main cast. Fun tidbits are the shoot at the Playboy Mansion, the movie's amusing costumes, and highlights of specific cast members.

    The dozen segments are: "Anna Faris: House Mom," "The Girls of Zeta," "The Girls Upstairs," "Colin Hanks: Mr. Nice Guy," "From Song to Set: Katherine McPhee," "From Tour Bus to Trailer: Tyson Ritter," "Look Who Dropped By," "House Bunny Style," "Zetas Transformed," "Getting Ready for a Party," "Calendar Girls" and "House Bunny Memories."
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 12 minutes) - There are ten scenes here, almost all are funny character moments with Faris. Since I find her hilarious, I actually quite enjoyed these otherwise-frivolous moments. Video quality is pretty crappy, however, in standard-def-only (complete with time code markers).
  • Music Video (HD) - Finally, we have a "music video" for Katherine McPhee's pretty atrocious riff on the old Waitresses' "I Know What Boys Like." Too bad this clip is just the film's end credit sequence, sans the actual credits.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Technically, there is no dedicated exclusive content. However, 'The House Bunny' does come BD-Live-enabled, which offers a portal to Sony's online destination. There, you can find links to Sony sites, info on upcoming Blu-ray titles, and downloadable trailers.

Final Thoughts

'The House Bunny' is a calorie-free cinematic confection. It's air-headed, of questionable value and as wafer-thin a story as is possible. But it's also pretty funny, and Anna Faris can do no wrong in my book. This Blu-ray is sweet, too, with good video and audio and some enjoyable supplements. 'The House Bunny' isn't a good enough movie to warrant an absolute purchase, but it's certainly worthy of at least a rental.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
  • BD-Live (Profile 2.0)

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit)
  • French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (640kbps)

Subtitles/Captions

  • Portuguese Subtitles
  • English SDH
  • Indonesian Subtitles
  • Thai Subtitles
  • Korean Subtitles
  • Chinese (Simplified) Subtitles
  • Chinese (Traditional) Subtitles
  • English Subtitles
  • French Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • Portuguese Subtitles

Supplements

  • Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video

Exclusive HD Content

  • None
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