Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: The House Bunny (2008)

If there’s one genre that I haven’t got any luck with on these stupid Birthday series things, then that genre is comedy. The drivel that I’ve sat through in the name of “humour” has frankly made me despair for humanity, and so when The House Bunny came out of the hat for 2008’s (22nd August release date in America)representative on my lengthy paean to self-flagellation, my heart sank. I put it on fully expecting an annoying and obnoxious repeat of some of the shite that I’ve sat through such as My Boss’ Daughter, but vaguely hopeful that it may be a bit better. Not a lot better, but if it was good enough for me to get through without wanting to turn my own eyes into melon balls, then that would be a vast improvement.

No cockwomble sightings, but there may be the odd spoiler or two.

Shelly was ecstatic when she realised that Hef had got her a cockwomble for her 27th Birthday.

The omens, to be honest, weren’t very good. Anna Faris plays Shelly, and she helpfully opens the film with a narration explaining that she was an orphan who never had a home until she moved into the Playboy mansion. Little Shelly, you see, has a long standing dream to be the centrefold, and she has her eyes on Miss November. In the meantime, everyone in the mansion loves her, and she’s the life and soul of the place. Unfortunately, Shelly is manipulated into leaving the mansion, and becomes homeless. After being arrested and spending the night in the cells (probably the funniest scene in the film), Shelly strikes the genius idea of becoming a sorority mother, and picks Zeta House, populated by 7 desperate (and desperately unconvincing) nerd girls who are about to lose their charter. Gradually the irrepressible Shelly’s spirit wins through, and after a heartwarming ending, everyone learns something about themselves.

The Battersea Dog’s Home sorority house wasn’t exactly easy on the eye. Only joking, these are mostly attractive girls cunningly uglied up by using drab clothing and glasses.

This is a strange beast. The casting, to begin with, is understandable but way off. The girls selected for the “nerdy” house are in no stretch of the imagination actually as dorky and unattractive as the film wants them to be (with 2 exceptions). Seriously, they’ve cast Kat Dennings, Katherine McPhee, Kiely Williams, and, unbelievably, Emma Stone as the girls. Admittedly, Rumor Willis and a midget do up the dork side a bit, but seriously, would you say any  of the first 4 names mentioned are unattractive nerds? Emma Stone Zombieland has trouble picking up men, does she? To be fair, the film goes out of its way to show us how unattractive she is by, er, having her wear glasses, so we all know she’s a difficult intellectual, possibly feminist, pigdog of a woman. Honestly, Hollywood must think there’s some kind of Clark Kent and Superman effect whereby a woman puts glasses on and suddenly ceases to be attractive. Nevertheless, all the acting, including from Colin Hanks as nerdy love interest, is basically acceptable. Faris tries particularly hard, and is reasonably OK and likeable as the ditz, but there’s not a lot for her to work with.

This douchebag is prejudiced against Playboy bunnies. Really.

The problem with modern comedy is that for the most part, and I hate to sound like an unreconstructed chauvinist pig here, they insist on giving funny lines to women, particularly gross out shame comedy, and it’s, well, just not funny in the slightest. In this case, the whole film is entirely female-centric and the women in question don’t have a great gift for crass humour. Rumour Willis in particular has an execrable sequence where she tries to chat up a guy by explaining to him how much she needs a crap. Hahahahahahahaha. Funny. Faris is a trouper, but there’s a repeated gag about her making a strange voice when she’s trying to remember a name that must have been a scream on paper that’s just, well, lame on screen.

Faris regretted that second serving of vindaloo.

Really, this is as trite and clichéd a film as you can imagine. We’ve all seen this sort of thing done hundreds of times before, and in far more successful ways, than this little film can manage. The central premise isn’t amusing enough in itself to sustain a film, feeling more like a Saturday Night Live skit that’s vaguely sneering at these dimwitted glamour models extended far beyond it’s natural lifespan. Nevertheless, individual scenes, such as Faris in the tank with the hookers are funny, and these little moments go a long way to whatever success you can ascribe to the film.

And the glasses come off revealing that the girls aren’t really ugly at all. I bet that came as a surprise.

Coupled with the essential lack of humour here is the trite message about being “ugly on the inside”. Except this time even director Fred Wolf knows that the message is hackneyed so almost skims over the top of it. Instead, the film does something that I applaud and I don’t think I’ve ever seen done before. The girls realise that there’s no point being an uber-dork male repellent on legs, but at the same score, they don’t want to become a group of ultra-vacuous sorority bitches. Instead, the ideal compromise is to be “half Shelly”. Which, I have to say, is a great idea- and I wish more films would acknowledge the real world like this, rather than pretending that people will love you because of what you are on the inside. Incidentally, what if you’re really ugly and an absolute bitch? How does that work for Hollywoodland?

“So, do they do that outfit in Ginger?”

Overall, I’m making this sound like Orangutan of Doom fodder, and it isn’t that bad. I sat there, admittedly barely cracking a smile, with the film washing over me in the most inoffensive way imaginable. I don’t recommend this, because it isn’t any good, but it’s not obnoxious or hateful. In fact, were I to see this on a Saturday afternoon then it would pass without nary a comment. Simply put, it’s not like Van Wilder or even the later American Pie sequels, in that while it is crass, it isn’t mean spirited. As a result, I give the House Bunny 1 disturbing transvestite Bugs Bunny out of a possible 4.

Next up is a far more obnoxious comedy than this one. Pan faced ultra dog Katherine Heigl gets on my last nerve in Knocked Up.

Until then,

Jarv.

The Full List for the Birthday Series Redux:

  • 2011- The Skin I Live In (2.5 out of 4)
  • 2010- The Last Exorcism (2.5 out of 4)
  • 2009- Post Grad (1 out of 4)
  • 2008- The House Bunny (1 out of 4)
  • 2007- Knocked Up
  • 2006- Volver
  • 2005- Red Eye
  • 2004- Dead Clowns
  • 2003- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
  • 2002- Talk to Her
  • 2001- Jeeper’s Creepers
  • 2000- Gossip
  • 1999- All About My Mother
  • 1998- The X-Files
  • 1997- Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
  • 1996- The Last Supper
  • 1995- The Usual Suspects
  • 1994- The Color of Night
  • 1993- Surf Ninjas
  • 1992- The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag
  • 1991- Pump Up the Volume
  • 1990- Wild at Heart
  • 1989- Bull Durham
  • 1988- Crossing Delancey
  • 1987- The Big Easy
  • 1986- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
  • 1985- Better off Dead
  • 1984- Oxford Blues
  • 1983- MetalStorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn
  • 1982- The Thing
  • 1981- Honky Tonk Freeway
  • 1980- Schock
  • 1979- Rich Kids
  • 1978- Coma

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

49 responses to “Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: The House Bunny (2008)”

  1. Jarv says :

    Not the greatest film ever, this one. Needed a pillow fight or two. And some good jokes.

  2. Xiphos0311 says :

    Hollywood must think there’s some kind of Clark Kent and Superman effect whereby a woman puts glasses on and suddenly ceases to be attractive.

    I don’t think its Superman syndrome its just more of the Hollywood/LA/California hatred of anything that doesn’t fit into their extremely narrow and up their own worthless ass point of view of the world. Hollywood/LA/California hates everything but their own useless selves.

    Never actually seen the whole movie just bits and pieces but i dislike it for the fact that they made Kathrine Mcphee shed weight she didn’t need to lose and she became an unattractive Hollywood stick figure. Bunch of Assholes

    • Jarv says :

      I did wonder about that, but I couldn’t think of another way of doing it. Not Another Teen Movie skewers this attitude as well, and it’s annoying to see it again.

      It’s not a hateful film this, just not very good. I’ve got Knocked Up next, which I do hate.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        its not a hateful movie I agree its just express an idea that is part of the Hollywood/LA machine, it seeps into every nook and granny the narrow minded hatred.

        knocked Up is awful.

      • Jarv says :

        Painfully bad. I was so rude about Heigl’s appearance that I had to rewrite the whole thing.

        Incidentally, Looking for pictures of it, I’m surprised at how big and actually decent Heigl’s juggs are. Still got a face that looks like it was stuck in a lift door and a voice that strips paint.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        yeah she does have a nice rack and an attitude and voice that reminds you of every ex that is a bad memory.

      • Jarv says :

        She’s just so relentlessly awful in Knocked Up.

      • Jarv says :

        Although to be fair, she’s a light and pleasant type compared to Leslie Mann in that.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        yes she was but to be scrupulously fair nothing was good in that unbelievable movie. For a comedy it was completely devoid of laughs. And how in the world would young men NOT know about Mr. Skin?

      • Jarv says :

        Yes, that got to me too.

        Especially fat internet savvy nerds.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        the annoying part of KU is that the idea behind it its good and a great comedy could have come from it. Instead we get a lame Heigle and Rogan vehicle that needed to be grounded in reality to work.

      • Jarv says :

        The problems are huge- it’s too long to start with- comes in at over 2 hours.

        Rogen is sleepwalking, Heigl is dreadful, Rudd is OK, Mann singlehandedly tears the film a new arsehole in every scene she ruins, the jokes aren’t funny, the situation isn’t realistic, the ending is contrived and obnoxious, the characters are ALL totally underdeveloped and hateful.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        can’t argue with any of that, spot on analysis.

      • Jarv says :

        How does Apatow continue to get to make films? I seriously don’t think I’ve liked any of them.

        Comedy is in a rotten state.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        40 YOV was one of the very few movies roles i didn’t want to kick Rogan square in the nuts. didn’t he also write or direct Anchorman? Admittedly it took some time to grow on me.

      • Jarv says :

        I hated Anchorman first time I saw it, as I’ve got an overwhelming need to kneecap Will Ferrell, who I just don’t find funny. However, it has kind of grown on me since.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I was the same way about it. Now i really like but I think its more about the other characters then it is Will Farrell’s. The Anchorman rumble was a great bit.

      • Jarv says :

        The Sex Panther bit is hilarious, to be fair.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        60% of the time it works every time.

      • Jarv says :

        That is funny.

  3. Xiphos0311 says :

    I liked the 40 Year Old Virgin Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared and I think he had a hand in The Larry Sanders Show. After that his resume gets real thin real fast.

  4. Continentalop says :

    I don’t think its Superman syndrome its just more of the Hollywood/LA/California hatred of anything that doesn’t fit into their extremely narrow and up their own worthless ass point of view of the world. Hollywood/LA/California hates everything but their own useless selves.

    Eh, it has nothing to do with Hollywood/LA IMO. Shit, almost everyone who writes, directs, or acts in a movie is from out of town (although the big players admittedly seem to be promoted from within “the family”, people born in the industry). And if you ever go to an independent film festival and see the “local” movies, they are just as often pushing the shitty tropes and cliches. Hell, when British or other foreign films make a genre flick they fall back on the same tropes.

    It has to do with the fact most writers are lazy, and most filmgoers actually like bs cliches and familiarity. I mean, it explains how CBS has the highest ranked comedies with Two and a Half Men and the Big Bang Theory.

    • Continentalop says :

      Case in point, movie I am working on was shot in Alabama by some guys with definitely non-Hollywood/LA background, and Jesus Christ is it a trope fest and predictable as hell.

      It also is boring and sucks.

  5. Continentalop says :

    See Wake Up, Ron Burgondy. It is like a short film made of the deleted scenes from Anchorman. David Koetchner is damn funny in it as Champ Kind. The theatrical release kind of fucked him over by cutting out his funniest bits.

  6. Continentalop says :

    Also I actually felt sympathy for Katherine Heigl’s character in Knocked-Up. Seriously, why the fuck did her character have to get stuck with Seth Rogan? They act like she is a bitch in the movie yet she gets stuck with a deadbeat stoner who finally gets a job as a telemarketer. Plus she is hot compared to him, and has a good job. Talk about a lose-win relationship.

    Movie is a male fantasy for guys who still love at home with their parents.

    • Continentalop says :

      Live, not love.

      I’m working today so it isn’t like my mind is paying 100% to what I am writing.

    • koutchboom says :

      I hate Knocked Up, it’s anti funny. And aren’t the stars of This is 40 about 10 years too old for those roles?

    • Jarv says :

      Partially agree. Except she IS a bitch.

      And to be fair, at the end of the film he has a flat and a good job etc.

      It’s just total fantasy- all the crap with her getting an effective promotion while pregnant, and so forth.

  7. tombando says :

    Nope pass. Dislike Apatow, Rudd, Rogen, Hill, Carell, Ferell. Ditto anchorman, 40 yo, and whatever parts of ku, sooperbad and etc I have seen.

    The fact Harold fapps over all of these just makes it worse.

  8. AndyWatchesMovies says :

    When I saw this my expectations were so low that I actually kind of liked it…
    Although I don’t seem to remember a single thing about it now, so I guess that says something too.

    • Jarv says :

      It’s totally inoffensive Andy. Not particularly good, but completely forgettable. There’s far more obnoxious films coming.

      I may have been a bit harsh on it, particularly when I saw Knocked Up was next…

      • Droid says :

        I just read Eberts review of The Dictator, and have found out Anna Faris is in it. That means I will inevitably see it.

  9. ThereWolf says :

    Wow, cockwomble is getting some love!

    This movie though, isn’t gonna be getting any wolf-loving. Sounds exceedingly bland. I shall avoid.

  10. Droid says :

    Ah, so this is where the Knocked Up TB occured.

    Anyway, while I pretty much agree with everything your said in your review, I think that giving this 1 and Knocked Up 1 is unfair on this. There’s nothing abrasive, irritating, annoying or unpleasant in this movie. It’s a silly premise with mostly likeable actresses. They try hard. The screenplay doesn’t deliver the jokes they deserve, but overall this is not that bad. Certainly worth a bit more than Knocked Up on the Chang scale.

    • Jarv says :

      The problem is that this in its own way is just as much of a failure as knocked up. It’s just so unfunny and so lazy

      Yes, it is better, and I toyed with giving KU 1/2, but realistically the grade for this is 1.2, and KU is 0.6.

  11. MORBIUS says :

    Can’t remember, what happened to ‘Pooter?”

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