The House Bunny

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The House Bunny
House bunny.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFred Wolf
Produced by
Written by
Music byWaddy Wachtel
CinematographyShelly Johnson
Edited byDebra Chiate
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • August 22, 2008 (2008-08-22)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million[1]
Box office$70.4 million[2]

The House Bunny is a 2008 American comedy film directed by Fred Wolf, written by Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz, and starring Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, and Emma Stone. It tells the story of a former Playboy bunny who signs up to be the "house mother" of an unpopular university sorority after finding out she must leave the Playboy Mansion. The film was released on August 22, 2008. It received mixed reviews, but was a box office success, making $70.4 million on a $25 million budget.[2] The film and its soundtrack have a cult following.[3][4][5]


Shelley Darlingson (Anna Faris) is an aspiring Playboy Playmate living the life of luxury in the Playboy Mansion with Hugh Hefner. The day after her 27th birthday, she awakes to find a note, seemingly from Hugh Hefner, asking her to pack up and leave. The note is later revealed to be a forgery by jealous rival Playmate Cassandra (Monet Mazur).

Shelley happens to stumble upon a group of girls who remind her of herself: beautiful and fun. She follows them and sees that they live in luxury too. They turn out to be the Phi Iota Mu sorority, and though she is unable to join them because she is not a student, she tries to become a house mother, but the house mothers snobbishly reject her when she tries to join them.

Shelley makes her way down to the Zeta Alpha Zeta house, which appears to be far less luxurious than the first sorority she visited. The members of the Zeta house are dowdy, socially awkward, and caught off guard by Shelley's bubbly nature, prompting them to initially reject her. Once they see Shelley's ability to attract boys, the Zetas change their mind and take in Shelley as their new "house mother", hoping that she can save them: their sorority is in danger of being shut down unless they can get thirty new pledges to join.

During her time spent with the Zetas, Shelley meets and becomes attracted to an intellectual, altruistic guy named Oliver (Colin Hanks), who works at a retirement home. Shelley goes out on a date with Oliver and while her flirty tactics work with most guys, they fail with him for he is a guy who actually wants to get to know Shelley rather than just sleep with her. To impress Oliver on their upcoming second date, Shelley starts attending classes and reading books, and tones down her appearance. The second date is also a disaster because she wears glasses that are not meant for her, and brings along note cards to help her sound smart.

Having gotten a makeover and lessons on how to attract guys and be popular, the Zetas throw a party, which is a huge success. Later, the Zetas are reviewing the girls who are hoping to pledge to Zeta, but their new popularity has made them conceited, forgetting the true value of sisterhood. When they realize what they have become, they blame Shelley—just as she returns from her unsuccessful date.

Although Shelley had just been invited back to the Playboy Mansion after Hefner had learned of the forged dismissal and decided to stay with the Zetas, the unexpected attack from them makes her reconsider and she calls back to accept the invitation. The Zetas then feel guilty and decide to give themselves a second makeover, this time being "Half-Shelley and Half-Themselves". They also decide to draw the pledges out at random instead of judging them for their physical looks and popularity. They show up at Shelley's photo shoot and ask for her to come back, to which she agrees, having changed her mind about her dream of being a centerfold.

The rival Phi Iota Mu sorority intercepts the invitations and prevents them from being mailed out, so the Zetas are again in danger of being shut down at the campus meeting of the Panhellenic Council. Shelley crashes the meeting and gives a heartfelt speech about what her experience with the Zetas has taught her about love and acceptance and asks for pledges on the spot; gradually thirty students agree to pledge, and the sorority is saved. Oliver and Shelley reconcile, and Shelley explains that she likes Oliver a lot and was trying too hard to impress him. They decide to start over with their relationship and Oliver is looking forward to getting to know the "real" Shelley.

The film ends with the Zetas and their new pledges celebrating. Shelley has remained in close contact with Hefner and her friends at the Playboy Mansion.


  • Anna Faris as Shelley Darlingson, an orphaned 27-year old former Playboy bunny who is forced to find a new home.
  • Colin Hanks as Oliver Hauser, Shelley's love interest who works at a retirement home.
  • Emma Stone as Natalie Sandler, a Zeta sister who is nerdy and intellectual, but open to new experiences.
  • Kat Dennings as Mona Rita, a Zeta sister who is cynical and sarcastic. She wears drab clothes and has many piercings. She is standoffish towards men and attractive women.
  • Katharine McPhee as Harmony Bowels, a Zeta sister who wears hippie clothing and is pregnant.
  • Rumer Willis as Joanne Davis, a Zeta sister who has for years perpetually worn a body brace.
  • Kiely Williams as Lilly Marsen, a Zeta sister from England with social anxiety so severe that it renders her incapable of anything but whispering to Natalie.
  • Dana Goodman as Carrie Mae Staten, a country Zeta sister who has masculine mannerisms and matching deep voice and clothes. She slouches and does not wear deodorant.
  • Kimberly Makkouk as Tanya Spirko, a Zeta sister who is of diminutive stature. She stands at least a foot shorter than any of the other sisters.
  • Monet Mazur as Cassandra, a new Playboy bunny who schemes to evict Shelley and claim stardom for herself.
  • Sarah Wright as Ashley, the selfish and manipulative leader of the Phi Iota Mu sorority who regularly bullies the Zeta sorority.
  • Rachel Specter as Courtney, Ashley's long-suffering assistant.
  • Beverly D'Angelo as Mrs. Hagstrom
  • Hugh Hefner as himself
  • Tyson Ritter as Colby Emmett, Natalie's love interest.
  • Owen Benjamin as Marvin Dixon, the mixologist at the Playboy mansion.
  • Christopher McDonald as Dean Simmons
  • Matt Barr as Tyler



Faris filming a scene from the movie

To screenwriters McCallah and Lutz, Faris had originally pitched the idea of a kicked-out Playboy bunny who returns to the midwest and does drugs, but a few months later, the screenwriters combined it with an idea they'd had about a mismatched sorority house and house mother.[6] The line "eyes are the nipples of the face" is, to the writers, "one of our proudest accomplishments, which really shows you how weird our job is."[6]

Faris had pitched the film's concept to a few companies and Adam Sandler's company, Happy Madison picked it up. The working title of the film was I Know What Boys Like. The film was made during summer 2007. Anna Faris had a nude scene, originally meant to be shot with a body double, but she decided to do the scene herself. Faris and Hanks were later reunited in Faris' show Mom.


Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 43% based on 125 reviews, with an average rating of 5.10/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Anna Faris is game, but she can't salvage this middling, formulaic comedy."[7] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 55 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[8] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[9]

Variety's John Anderson stated that the film is a "Blissfully broad comedy that should catapult Anna Faris into a singular kind of stardom."[10]

Box office[edit]

On August 22, 2008, The House Bunny was released in the US. It debuted at #1 on its first day of release making $5.91 million, but ultimately landed in second place for its opening weekend, making $14.53 million,[11] behind Ben Stiller's action-comedy film Tropic Thunder, which made $16.2 million. The film had grossed $70 million worldwide ($48 million at the North American domestic box office and $22 million internationally)[2] as of March 22, 2009. The film debuted in the UK chart at #1 grossing almost $1 million in its first weekend.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 19, 2008. It was released in a 6-movie collection called The Laugh Out Loud Collection with other Happy Madison films in 2013.


Though a soundtrack was not released, a single was released to iTunes on July 16, 2008.[citation needed] The single was a cover of The Waitresses song, "I Know What Boys Like" (produced by Chad Hugo of The Neptunes) as performed by Katharine McPhee (featuring Kat Dennings, Emma Stone, and Rumer Willis). The film also featured songs by artists including:


  1. ^ "The House Bunny (2008) - Financial Information". The Numbers (website).
  2. ^ a b c "The House Bunny (2008)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
  3. ^ The House Bunny cult and classic movie on
  4. ^ Christopher Luu (August 23, 2018). "It's Been 10 Years Since The House Bunny and the Movie's Stars Are Getting Nostalgic".
  5. ^ The House Bunny cult and classic movie on
  6. ^ a b Carlin, Shannon (2018-09-05). "Revisiting "The House Bunny" With Its Writers Kirsten Smith & Karen McCullah Lutz 10 Years Later". Medium. Retrieved 2021-03-18.
  7. ^ "The House Bunny (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  8. ^ The House Bunny reviews at Metacritic
  9. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  10. ^ Anderson, John (August 21, 2008). "The House Bunny". Variety. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  11. ^ John M. Guilfoil (2008-08-24). The Hollywood Charts, Aug. 24. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
  12. ^ ReelSoundtrack – Music Soundtrack – The House Bunny (2008). Retrieved 2010-11-27.

External links[edit]