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Film / The House Bunny

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The House Bunny is an American Comedy that was released in 2008. It was directed by Fred Wolf and written by Kirsten Smith and Karen Mc Cullah Lutz.

Shelley Darlington (Anna Faris), a Playboy Bunny who gets kicked out of the mansion for being too old at the age of 27. With nowhere else to go, she ends up at Zeta Alpha Zeta, a sorority house of losers that will lose their charter if they don't attract new pledges.

Most of the film's humor comes from taking standard makeover and college sorority tropes and exaggerating them to point of light parody, while still playing them straight.

This film provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: Shelley's old wagon backfires constantly and scares nearby animals when she opens the door.
  • All Guys Want Sorority Women: Shelley teaches the girls to invoke this trope to attract new pledges.
  • All-Loving Heroine: Shelley is so much kinder than people give her credit for, mostly because of her bunny reputation.
  • Alpha Bitch: Ashley and for a time the protagonists.
  • As Himself: Hugh Hefner, as well as his then-girlfriends Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson, and Bridget Marquardt all appear in the film as themselves.
  • Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch: Courtney, Ashley's seemingly loyal Beta Bitch sidekick, has had enough with Phi Iota Mu (and Ashley, who had treated her horribly) that she describes it as "hell", and decides to pledge Zeta, making her the last pledge needed in order to save their house.
  • Becoming the Mask: After their makeover, the Zetas start to act just like the Phis, whom they've always hated.
  • Beautiful All Along: When Shelley gives the Zetas makeovers. Even after they tone it down later in the film, they still look great.
  • Book Dumb: Shelley, but to impress Oliver she goes out of her way to avert this.
  • Brainless Beauty/Dumb Blonde: Played with. Shelley is naive, talks a bit too much, and often seems like The Ditz in general, but she proves as the film goes on that you can't simply brush her off as an airhead.
  • Breast Attack: Ashley has a habit of punching her best friend Courtney in the boob when she's in a bad mood. She herself becomes a victim of this when Mrs. Hagstrom punches her chest.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: In the post-Shower Scene, when Shelley walks out naked the girls get intimidated upon seeing her buxom figure. Shelley also makes an offhand comment implying that she's had a boob job.
    Natalia: I don't think that some of the girls in this house have even seen their own bodies naked, so they probably don't really want to see your perfectly engineered boobs!
    Shelley: Well, I'm just walking around in the body God and Dr. Borkman gave me.
  • Chick Flick: Kind of a mix of this and trashy college comedy.
  • Cool Old Guy: The movie incarnation of Hugh Hefner is this. When he finds out that Shelley was tricked into leaving the Playboy Mansion, he personally tracks her down so that he can tell her everybody at the mansion misses her and invites her to come back home.
  • Dean Bitterman: Averted with Dean Simmons, who is perfectly reasonable, neutral, and simply enforces the rules. Played straight, however, with Ms. Hagerstown (who doesn't really seem to have any actual power in the council, so this trope may be downplayed with her).
  • Disappeared Dad: Harmony seems to be a single mother, since the father of her baby is never even mentioned.
  • Fallen Princess: Shelley, from a Playboy Bunny living in the Playboy Mansion with her pink Prius to (temporarily) living in her old car and even ending up in jail one night after getting kicked out for [[supposedly]] being too old for Playboy.
  • Generation Xerox: Mean and snobby Alpha Bitch Ashley punches her friend Courtney in the boob when she's upset. At the end, her mean and snobby mother does the same thing to her.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Natalie's makeover consisted entirely of this, after she went through a very short-lived slutty phase.
  • Guttural Growler: For whatever reason, Shelley does this to remember names.
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: Sort of. Happens with Hugh after he discovers Shelley was tricked into leaving the mansion by Marvin, who was being taken advantage of by Ashley. He and the other models clearly really miss her.
  • Hidden Depths: Shelley initially seems to be a Malaproper, but whenever anyone calls her out on this, it turns out she means what she said and usually in a very insightful way.
  • Hot Librarian: Trying to tone down her sexuality and appear more "intellectual" for her second date with Oliver, Shelley ends up sporting this look (albeit inadvertently).
  • I Choose to Stay: Ends up being double subverted. Just as it seems like Shelley is settling into her new life with the Zetas, her second date with Oliver goes even worse than the first. When she gets an offer from Hugh to come back to the mansion (who never actually kicked her out; that was Ashley's doing), she accepts. When she realizes that her life with the Zetas is better than her old one, she comes back just in time to help them get new pledges and save their house.
  • Insult Backfire: Shelley thinks anything said to her is a compliment. When she responds this way to insults, people usually don't know how to react and she wins the moment.
  • Innocent Beta Bitch: Courtney ends up joining Zeta after being fed up with Ashley mistreating her.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Shelley's naive to a fault, but very sweet to people, even when they don't deserve it.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Parodied. Shelley tries to recreate Marilyn Monroe's upskirt scene in The Seven Year Itch with a heat vent. She ends up burning herself, resulting in a Precision F-Strike.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Shelley briefly thinks that Oliver is gay because she fails to seduce him on their first date.
    Shelley: I don't think he likes me. He didn't fall for any of my tricks.
    Natalie: That's impossible. Your tricks always work.
    Shelley: I did sexy. I did other guys want me. I worked every angle in the book but - I don't know - he just kind of stared.
    Natalie: What if Oliver is one of those guys who wants to have, like, a conversation with a girl before he hooks up with her?
    Shelley: He's gay?
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Courtney turns on Ashley mostly due to how horribly she treats her.
  • Modesty Towel: Played with. Shelley likes to "air dry" and steps out of the shower topless with a towel wrapped around her waist and another on her hair. Natalie tells her she has to cover up because most of the girls in the house haven't seen their own bodies and Shelley naked may be too much of a shock. She refuses and goes a step further by dropping the towel. Cue Reaction Shot.note 
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Although this is mostly a Chick Flick, the fact that the movie features a very fit-looking Anna Faris wearing lots of revealing outfits means that guys (and some girls too) will have something to enjoy. She's also shown nude from the back (including her real ass) at one point.
    • Most of the girls count too, as they too appear in raunchy outfits at various points.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Shelley "prefers to air dry" when she gets out of the shower, which freaks out her new housemates.
  • Need a Hand, or a Handjob?: Inverted when Shelley misunderstands what a cop, who had pulled her over for DUI, means when he asks her to "blow".
  • Nice Guy: Oliver, which sadly Shelley isn't used to after a life of Playboy.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Cassandra, a rival playboy who is jealous of Shelley, hadn't tricked into thinking she was evicted from the mansion, Shelley wouldn't have met the Zetas and helped them save their house.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: On their first date, Shelley attempts to impress Oliver by dressing sexy, flirting heavily with him, and showing that other men want her. She doesn't accomplish anything besides making Oliver uncomfortable.
  • Out Giving Birth, Back in Two Minutes: Harmony gives birth offscreen as the rest of her sorority fights for recognition... and comes back with her new daughter while still in her hospital bed.
  • Parental Abandonment: Shelley was left on the former orphanage's front porch as a baby.
  • Pity Sex: While not sex per se, in one scene Shelley mentions that she once let Bob Saget grind against her during a party as an act of charity.
  • Playboy Bunny:
    • The title character, Shelley.
    • Some of the real-life playboy bunnies make a cameo as themselves.
  • The Pollyanna: Although dimwitted, Shelley is incredibly kindhearted and trusting. When people insult her, she always misinterprets it as a compliment and responds as such, resulting in an Insult Backfire.
  • Rich Bitch: The Phi Iota Mu house is full of them, but Ashley stands out for being especially shallow and cruel.
  • Scenery Censor: When Joanne bumps into a naked Shelley in the stairs, her head blocks a full frontal shot of her crotch.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: After Shelley starts studying, she begins to drop 25 cent words into casual conversations. Even when she's not trying to impress Oliver.
    Shelley: No! No! This is germane to our predicament!
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Shelley is not ashamed of walking around in the buff showing the body "God and Dr. Borkman" gave her.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity/Toplessness from the Back: Shelley when she's "air drying".
  • Shout-Out:
    • Joanne runs and chases a guy and breaks her neckbrace while doing it, a la Forrest Gump (Shelley even encourages her by saying, "Run, Joanne, Run!"), the movie that stars Tom Hanks, whose son, Colin Hanks, plays as Oliver in this movie.
    • While practicing showing off, Natalie imitates Austin Powers' signature grin, which she lampshades.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Shelley ends up falling for Oliver, a genuinely nice guy who works at a retirement home and wants to get to know Shelley as a person instead of just trying to sleep with her.
  • Sudden Principled Stand: When the Zetas start acting like the Iotas, whom they despised, Lily who had been completely silent up until then, decides she's had enough and calls them all out on it.
  • Team Power Walk: The Zetas do this after they get their The Makeover.
  • Too Much Information: Shelley overshares. A lot. At one point she tells a room full of people about every single part of her body that got itching from an allergic reaction.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Lily, the mostly silent Black girl with the Zetas (at first) is the only character of color in the film (she's also British).
  • Unwanted Assistance: Eventually in-universe, the girls say "Stop Helping Me" to Shelley, when they realize that they've become as shallow and petty as the Phi Iota Mu girls. Then they start to miss having her around, and invite her back.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Sort of. A virgin (in this case Natalie, whom Shelley discovered was one after gossiping about Natalie's crush) is selected to be sent down a slide into a vat of warm gelatin for the Zetas' Aztec party.
  • The Voiceless: The painfully shy Lily, who communicates via notes. When she does speak, it's to call out the other girls on the hypocrites they've become. It's also revealed that she's British.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lily gives one of these to the Zetas after their new popularity causes them to become shallow and conceited.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Shelley's first date with Oliver ends in disaster because, being used to guys who are just trying to have sex with her, she plays up her sexiness and flirts heavily with Oliver. But Oliver actually wants to get to know Shelley instead of just sleeping with her. Their second date goes just as badly because Shelley attempts to appear intellectual by toning down her appearance, wearing glasses that aren't prescribed to her, and uses note cards in an attempt to sound smart. At the end of the film she realizes that she was trying too hard to impress Oliver and decides to just be herself.