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Originally published August 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 22, 2008 at 2:32 PM

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Movie review

"The House Bunny": one dumb blonde joke after another

"The House Bunny," starring Anna Faris as an ex-Playboy bunny who finds work as a sorority house mother, is an awful dumb blonde joke stretched out into a series of bad punch lines.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 1 stars

"The House Bunny," with Anna Faris, Colin Hanks and Emma Stone. Directed by Fred Wolf, from a screenplay by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sex-related humor, partial nudity and brief strong language. Several theaters.

If another dumb-blonde joke is something you've hoped never to suffer again, make every effort to avoid the protracted punch line that constitutes the bulk of "The House Bunny."

In its shameless pandering to youth obsessed with sex and mindless gratification, this slapdash accretion of vapid gags is aimed squarely at empty-headed teens interested only in leering at supple bodies and dreaming of the day they can find a college where ogling hotties and humiliating losers is the core curriculum.

The most supple body of all is Anna Faris, who plays Shelley, an orphaned brainless (blonde) Playboy Bunny who's unceremoniously kicked out of the famous mansion at the dreaded age of 27 — that's 59 in Bunny years, she's told.

Homeless for all of 24 hours, she insinuates herself as housemother at a college sorority that's about to lose its charter because the girls are dumpy and drab and can't get enough new pledges to keep a full roster.

Shelley actualizes her charges by proving they can turn things around by tarting up with an industrial supply of cosmetics and sexy underthings. This salvo sends the movie into 21st-century dumbed-down "Animal House" territory as a rival house full of mean, privileged nubile sisters declare war.

The movie makes some concession to likability in a few characters. Emma Stone as one of the brainy sisters who sees a spark of goodness in Shelley's intentions displays some measure of humanity.

And Faris herself shows flashes of a genuine comedic awareness — outweighed, unfortunately, by her dimwitted shenanigans and the ridiculous wardrobe she prances around in.

A bizarre component to the haphazard plot is the presence of Colin Hanks as a normal, decently intelligent guy who manages a nursing home where the girls try to practice some "philanthropy."

He strikes up an unlikely quasi-romance with Shelley, but mostly stands around looking befuddled about what a regular joe is doing in a movie populated by such abnormal specimens.

One of the few amusing bits has Hugh Hefner showing up in a few scenes doing an affable version of himself and generally being a good sport. The Playboy-in-Chief even plays a convincing version of sad after one of his scheming young beauties pulls the wool over his eyes. It's comforting to know that even Hef sometimes just needs some alone time in bed with a few pints of Haagen-Dazs.

Ted Fry: tedfry@hotmail.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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