Ladies and gentlemen, imagine if you will the concept of cinematic schizophrenia. It's okay if you don't quite grasp the idea behind this concept because I just then made it up especially for this review. However, should a movie ever adopt the illness that is cinematic schizophrenia, it will undoubtedly in some way or another resemble the bewildering mess that is House Bunny. Here is a film that is one thing, then another, and then another and so on. It's a feature that gives the audiences some genuine laughs, and yet tacks on drama so soppy and melodramatic that it's hard to take anything in the vicinity of its presence with any degree of sincerity. There's also some brilliant performances, and yet the thespians involved are neglected to play out shady, two dimensional cut outs for characters; going through act one, two and three with a different wardrobe, and a whole new personality to match. What hurts the movie most however isn't this mix of successful elements with mundane ones, but the collision that occurs when they try to blend; House Bunny is a confusing, disjointed affair that entertains sporadically and yet has around the same amount of potential to irritate and bore. In the end, much like a "bunny" in reality, this isn't going to give the brain cells much company and whatever fun is had will be quickly forgotten in no time; shallow, trite and ridiculously unfocused, House Bunny should be fine enough for teenage girls looking for some brain dead amusement, but for anyone else, this is material best left alone.
Following the story of ugly neglected orphan turned Playboy centrefold wannabe turned homeless bimbo, House Bunny opts to tell the classic tale of 'be yourself and always appreciate those closest to you'. The problem with this isn't just that the movie fails to change any of the formula associated with this cliché concoction but that it instead contorts elements beyond recognition which in turn distorts any sense of conviction within the script. Furthermore, with three distinct acts that draw their borders just about as obviously as their characters go through personality changes, the film adopts a jolted structure that plays out all too obviously and predictably. Throughout the tale we see characters go from one thing to another and then meeting somewhere in the middle by the end; it's nothing that hasn't been done before, so many times. Yet where House Bunny gets most irksome is in the extent that characters shift focus, resulting in tired clichés that fail to create any resonance with the audience beyond grabbing a few stilted laughs. As a direct result, it is the feature's first act that plays off the most successfully, meshing likable characters with not so likable ones in a manner that seems almost satirical in its charm. Unfortunately, this sense of consistency and intrigue soon dispels once the movie sets up its driving force for the central theme, resulting in ideas rather than characters interacting with each other; this isn't engaging drama by any means, no matter how hard it tries. Sure enough there's somewhat of a decent message to be taken back, but it's too far behind all this confused jumble of caricature nonsense to be taken seriously.
To say that the feature is without its merits however would be a small misjudgement. House Bunny certainly isn't anything worth looking into, but should you be subjected to watching it, there are a few hidden gems in amongst all the dirt. Most of these highlights, as stated earlier, lie in the performances of the main cast, and while most are given nothing but lame characterisation to work with, most get the job done and pull some decent laughs out of their limited bag of tricks. Anna Faris who by now is more than comfortable in these kinds of slapstick roles, is particularly convincing in her position here, making the most of her ditzy persona and fleshing her out to be just a little more engaging than she should otherwise be. Emma Stone in what is only her third feature also gives a memorable performance in her own right, outdoing her lukewarm outing in lacklustre The Rocker by quite some distance. It goes without saying that her character suffers the most from this schizophrenia I referred to earlier, and Stone certainly entertains more as Act One Nerd, but consistency aside, she adds an air of vibrant ambiance that counters Faris' more eccentric glow.
Aside from those elements however, plus the undeniable fact that most will find something to laugh at here, then House Bunny falls flat. It's a tepid effort for sure, eager to please its target audience of teenage girls with little aspiration to reach anyone else, and for that the feature can get more than tiresome in between the more amusing and engaging parts. Certainly not a movie to be taken seriously by any means, director Fred Wolf never quite seems to grasp the script's notably tongue-in-cheek nature, and instead delivers a black and white rendition of the now sloppily vague "believe in yourself and you will be happy" story. The drama is pointless, the characters ridiculously incoherent, and the themes are underdeveloped to the point where all hope is lost underneath rubble of mismatched ideas and talents. I'm sure some audiences will get a kick out of it, but I wasn't one of them. I laughed a few times, and I very rarely got bored, but that's not saying much. This is for teenage girls in search for silly, ditzy fun with no brains and no heart either; anyone else should look elsewhere.
- A review by Jamie Robert Ward (http://www.invocus.net)