It's kinda sad when a comedy manages to revolve around two amazingly broad stereotypes. This is the case with The House Bunny, an extended dumb blonde joke.

Shelley (Anna Faris) went from an orphanage to living her fairy-tale life as a resident of the Playboy Mansion. This nice-but-naive blond dreams of being a centerfold, but the day after she turns 27 she's thrown out of the Mansion for being "too old." After living in her car and a night in jail, Shelley wanders onto a college and discovers her perfect job: sorority mother!

Unfortunately, the only sorority that will take Shelley is Zeta Alpha Zeta, a group of misfits (to put it mildly) whose main spokesperson is Natalie (Emma Stone, who is at least more nerdy here than as the "nerd" in Easy A). Of course, the girls of Zeta House are about to lose their sorority and house unless they can get 30 pledges.

Every genre has its cliches -- and just about every cliche for the comedy is present here. Completely different types of people teaching each other? Check. Montages of unattractive people getting makeovers, then strutting in slow motion? Check. Montage of dumb character with lots of books to become smart? Check. Woman with an unrequited crush on a cute boy who gets him in the end? Check -- twice! Snobbish, petty characters who exist only to be booed and get their comeuppance? Check -- twice again.

What's missing here is humor or interest. Anna Faris has done this sort of character so often it's far too familiar to us, and no other actor in the movie stands out. There are no good jokes (Shelley's mispronouncing and misunderstanding words only goes so far) or good sight gags. And every character here is a cliche. Shelley is the continual dumb blonde. The women of Zeta House aren't just misfits, they're virtually freaks: the woman in the full body brace, the short woman who never speaks, the hunched-over woman with pigtails and unibrow, the very visibly pregnant woman, the heavily-pierced gloomy goth, etc. As for the baddies, they're preppies who are snobs, underhanded, and exist solely to be booed and get their comeuppance by the movie's end. As for dvd extras, they consist of a few deleted scenes, a few behind-the-scenes features, and a music video from Katharine McPhee, who is barely in this movie.

Director Fred Wolf scored a hit with the similarly-themed Legally Blonde, but the fish-out-of-water treatment doesn't work at all here. If you want to see The House Bunny, save yourself a lot of time and a lack of laughs and just read a few dumb blond jokes.

Overall grade: F
Reviewed by James Lynch

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