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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Abusive Relationship with Hollywood, Episode 7: A Sad Bunny

Bunnies used to be funny. As a kid, I loved the part of Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and don't come back) where Snoopy watches the in flight movie with the Funny Bunnies.

The reason I laughed so hard is because of Snoopy's reaction. I mean, Snoopy was a cartoon genius to me, and if he could solve the mystery of Woodstock's disappearing nest (see "It's A Mystery, Charlie Brown") then he sure as hell could peg out good comedy.

Unfortunately, Anna Farris has boiled the comedy bunny...

She and her co-horts have boiled the bunny so badly, Glenn Close herself would say it was sick. How did this happen? How did I get suckered into another bad movie? Simple: love.

My girlfriend and her sister planned to see The House Bunny on Saturday night, and I was told I was perfectly welcome to come along. I politely declined because after the last time I went to the movies with her and her sister (see My Abusive Relationship with Hollywood, Episode 5: A Bright, Shining Disco Hell for that thrilling story of horror and woe.) I obviously didn't want to get embroiled in another incident.

Saturday afternoon comes and I get a text message reminding me I was invited to come along and see House Bunny. As it would turn out, I was being asked to accept this invitation because the Sister had invited several friends to go and my girlfriend didn't want to be alone with all of them. Knowing full well the Hell I would be in for, I said yes because I didn't want to look like an insensitive prick who'd let his girlfriend languish with her sister and her friends. I love my girlfriend too much do to that, and I love her enough to make compromises. (That, and she now has to see Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace in return.)

What made this outing interesting, besides the film, was the activation of the C3 policy. (C3 = Can't Complain Clause) With the C3 in place, I cannot complain overtly about the content of the film I'm being subjected to. As was the case with Mamma Mia, the C3 was not in effect and I lit that motherfucker up like a Roman Candle. This lead to a little friction, and the discussion of how some films "exist just to exist" and are merely "distractions from real life", between my girlfriend and I.

While I agree that some films exist just to be there, I do not agree that these films should be released in theaters. They should go directly to DVD, because by the doctrine of films "existing just to exist", we can say that The House Bunny has the same artistic merit as, say, I Am Omega, or any other production of the bullshit ripoff mavens at The Asylum (their complete filmography can be found here: http://www.imdb.com/company/co0043571/). Those films exist to fulfill those that are too cheap to go to a movie theater for their disappointments. There's a justification for their entire catalog, so we can assume that these films exist for their reason in the universe. Yes, I'm a Movie Snob. A big time Movie Snob!

Oh, right...you're probably asking, "How the actual movie?". Well, it wasn't as painful as Mamma Mia, I can say that. That having been said, it was still a loud and garish spectacle that looks like it's supposed to be passed off as a fairy tale by way of Animal House. The soundtrack is loud, and filled with ear rape. (C'mon, "When I Grow Up" is not female empowerment music...unless every girl's aim in life is to "want to have boobies".) The film's biggest liability...Anna Farris herself. Before I begin, I must say that I've found her hysterical in other films, particularly Just Friends. Sadly, all The House Bunny does is take the dumb version of Cindy Campbell from Scary Movie 3 and 4 and slaps some bunny ears on her, while giving her ample opportunity to say "You Guys!" more times than an effeminate drill sergeant. She flounces, she grates on the nerves, she's basically the perky blonde comic relief...who fairs much better in smaller doses in a better movie.

It's ironic that a film with as "deep" of a message as The House Bunny, I found pleasure in the shallow end of the pool. There were plenty of girls to stare at, and I took a small quantum of solace out of that fact. As it turns out, Rumer Willis isn't as fugly as she is in real life...they actually found a way to make her pretty in the film. (With longer hair and revealing clothing.) ! The costumes, the montages, the "girl power" message...make no mistake, this is Sex and the City: the Next Generation. If anything, this movie did shallow perfectly, especially with the message of the film: "All it takes is some cool clothes and overt sexuality in order to gain the confidence you need and win the boys! Where ma' Zetas at?" (The following obscenity is random, and triggered by the stupidity of this film: "GAH, ASS CANCER, BALL FUCKER!")

The "Deep" end, on the other hand, receives a grade of "Epic Fail". Don't get me wrong, I can get behind the "be yourself" and "you are beautiful, no matter what they say" message of the film. I think it's important for people to feel that way, and sadly the Mass Media makes it hard to triumph individuality, especially in the female demographic. This isn't a knock at women, it's a cold hard truth...society has always put more pressure on women and their idealized versions of what they should be like. There is no true lesson learned in the film. The girls do realize that they're becoming snobs, but only 30 seconds into becoming snobs. They don't have the hard fall most "likable" protagonists would in any film that's been here and done this much better. Literally, all it takes is the "Shy Girl Who Doesn't Speak" to speak up and tell them how they've all become snooty bitches. The rest of the film resumes to mix superficiality with the "deep" message.

Wouldn't it make more sense to give the movie the message that with confidence, anything's possible? Why didn't the girls start dressing the way they normally did when they realized they were snooty bitches? Simple...because they knew that if Kat Dennings went back to looking like a butch pseudo lesbian (don't deny it, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, you know that's what you were going for) after being transformed into the natural hottie she is, guys would tune out. Because that's what you're ultimately doing with movies like this...you're trying to sell the guys who have to go see the movie with their girlfriends. Before anyone tries to deny it, look at who one of the executive producers on the film was...that's right Adam Sandler, the "genius" behind all Happy Madison Productions. They're a hit and miss company, and this was indeed a miss.

The House Bunny seems to be a film made for its creators. Even the fact that they played Hugh Hefner as a stereotypical woman in this film was simply pandering to the male audience and mining it for laughs. (Though, he was pretty funny.) So before anyone thinks this type of shit is empowering to women, stop and think: couldn't the Zetas just go back to dressing the way they used to (or in a fashion that isn't so slutty, but also isn't as dumpy as the beginning of the film) and embark on all of their ventures with a new found sense of pride and confidence? Wouldn't that make a better message for the film? To which the makers of the film would reply, "Shut up, it's time for a montage of clips from the film set to a musical number".

Spank material aside, if your movie has an overtly Feminist character in it and you get a male to agree with her perspectives through the actions of your characters, you've REALLY got to sit down and hit the rewrite button. You know, the "delete" key, but ONLY after you've hit Ctrl-A. Trust me on this kids. The only way anyone could make up for making me sit down and watch The House Bunny, is if it's recreated with actual (cartoon) bunnies in 30 seconds. Hey, it might work with 30 Days of Night! (You took the funny out of my bunnies, Ms. Farris. I suggest you find a way to bring it back, or prepare to suffer the consequence...Scary Movie 5!)

P.S. No matter what this film has done, I'll still go on laughing at Nick Swardson and Allen Covert; and Christopher MacDonald is still cool in my book. Shooter McGavin FTW! Also, may the careers of Colin Hanks, Kat Dennings, and Emma Stone live on...because I genuinely like them.

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