The House Bunny Review
For much of the filming, The House Bunny was known to the cast as 'The Anna Faris project' - so mundane a movie that even the title was hard to think of. More a vehicle for its producer/star, Fred Wolf's comedy is lukewarm at best with just a few laughs littered through the sub-100 minute runtime.
Shelley (Faris) was raised in an orphanage, rejected by adoptive parents, she was the ugly duckling. Fast forward a few years and Shelley has blossomed into the typical American dream girl - long blonde hair, ample cleavage etc. She ends up becoming a Playboy Bunny living in Hugh Hefner's huge mansion and with the one ambition of becoming a centrefold. However she's just turned 27 and that is really getting on for a Bunny so, when she receives a note from 'Heff' saying she has to leave she packs her bags and moves out. With nowhere to go, Shelley eventually finds herself on the doorstep of a sorority house populated by the outcasts and geeks of the university. The unpopularity of the house means it faces closure, and only a radical makeover can stop this happening - predictably, it's only Shelley who can save the day by turning the geeky housemates into the most desirable on campus.
Anna Faris is strong as Shelley - she is a talented comic actress and deserves much better material. As with the Scary Movie films, she is leagues ahead of what the film deserves. Likewise Emma Stone, who plays house president, Natalie is very good and the most of the supporting cast fit their respective roles well including American Idol finalist, Katharine McPhee in her first big screen part as pregnant hippy, Harmony. Less impressive however is Colin Hanks as Faris' love interest Oliver - he fails to be anything other than a blander, more boring version of his father; think Hanks Senior at his most uninteresting and then you're getting close to Junior's performance here.
More mediocrity stems from the mundane direction of Fred Wolf - the features reveal him to have very little to say, and this comes across in the way the film fails to do anything other than work its way through the straightforward plot. A comedy such as this either needs some level of inventiveness in the direction or a standout script and it delivers neither. To top it all, the romantic sub-plots are tiresome, mainly due to the paper thin portrayal of the male characters.
The House Bunny could have been a much better film had some risks been taken. If the production, script and direction were on a par with the main characters played by Faris and her housemates then this could have been very special, but instead it's just another lukewarm PG-13 comedy the likes of which we've seen a hundred times before...
The 1080p AVC encode is good, but not outstanding. The bright colour palette should really stand out on Blu-ray, but low contrast means it does fall short with a slightly flat and occasionally muddy appearance when blacks aren't quite as black as they should be. However, there are no notable digital issues with no attempt at applying DNR, edge enhancement or any other unnecessary processing. Given the sharpness of the transfer, there is a surprising lack of detail, but this is more than likely down to artistic intent rather than anything more ominous.
Again, the Dolby TrueHD track is so-so. Surround use is kept to the absolute minimum and I would have forgotten I had my amp switched on had it not been for one scene with dog barks emanating from the rear speakers. There are no real problems with the soundtrack other than its total lack of presence. Very average.
Rounding off an average disc is a very average selection of extras. No commentary and no trailer for The House Bunny itself, instead we have to make do with around 12 minutes of chuckle-free deleted scenes that were most likely cut for pacing reasons, but this is something we'll never no as we're given no context to work from; a selection of featurettes with a running time of around 50 minutes and which are the usual PR filler with plenty of talking heads saying how much they enjoyed working on the film; and finally a music video for Katharine McPhee's 'I Know What Boys Like'.
The rest of the extras are promos for Blu-ray, a selection of Sony film and some BD-Live content which I couldn't access (but according to reports is just more Sony promos).
Average film on an average disc. With little benefit over the DVD release, paying a premium for this on Blu-ray really isn't worthwhile.