Anna Faris is golden — a gifted comedian able to fill any role calling for a sexy babe, and blessed with the talent to satirize blond ambition with just a widening of the eyes, a shimmy of the ta-tas. She killed in Lost in Translation. She rocked in the Scary Movie epidemic, and on Entourage as well. Now she stars in the gaily ditzy, formula comedy The House Bunny — and she gives an A performance in the kind of farce from which she’s more than ready to graduate.
Faris plays Shelley Darlington, a Playboy Bunny banished from Hef’s mansion on the grounds she’s way old: 27, which is, she’s told, 59 in Bunny years. Homeless, the cheerful naïf stumbles her high-heeled way onto a college Greek row. And before you can say Zeta Alpha Zeta, she becomes house mother to a sorority of losers in danger of having its charter revoked because they can’t recruit any new losers to join them. The sisters of ZAZ — blissfully ignorant of their links to the great comedy fraternity of Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker — are smart, dorky ducklings before Shelley gets to them. (Superbad’s Emma Stone is leader of the pack.) Afterward, they’re all smart, datable swans empowered in their mascara. And Shelley herself learns that it’s okay to add brains to her list of assets, encouraged by a nice guy (Colin Hanks) who knows how to look into a girl’s eyes, not into her Wonderbra. (Wisdom from Shelley to her Zeta girls: ”The eyes are the nipples of the face.”)
The movie flaunts its comedy roots like a messy bleach job. Scribes Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith also wrote the screenplay for Legally Blonde, and their notions of squaring beauty obsession with feminism are tinted with contradictions. But Faris is authentic, and a smart scout would build a whole new comedy empire around her assets, not the other way around. B-