Just in time for back-to-school comes "The House Bunny," which won't teach you anything new or useful, but it will prepare you for sorority rush.
Well, its depiction of Greek life isn't all that accurate either, but that's beside the point. The entire purpose of this late-summer comedy is to serve as a showcase for Anna Faris, star of the "Scary Movie" franchise, whose sunny disposition and solid comic timing make "The House Bunny" a whole lot more enjoyable than it ought to be.
Yes, you've seen it all before. It's essentially a female remake of "Revenge of the Nerds." Faris, in all her ditsy glory, functions as a descendant from a long line of supposedly dumb blondes, but she's so unafraid of going for the big laugh at her own expense that she makes this familiar role her own.
Faris stars as Shelley, a perky Playboy bunny who gets kicked out of Hef's mansion and becomes the house mother for Zeta Alpha Zeta, a sorority full of misfits. Actually "full" is stretching it, since the Zetas have only seven members, and they need to come up with 30 pledges to avoid being kicked off campus and having the mean-girl Phi Iota Mus take over their house.
And so Shelley, with her itty-bitty outfits, pouf of platinum hair and an endless stream of malapropisms, transforms these wallflowers into Pussycat Dolls, and turns the Zeta house into the place to be. Silly? Impossible? Of course.
Fred Wolf, who wrote for "Saturday Night Live," directs in straightforward, unremarkable fashion. Emma Stone ("Superbad, "The Rocker") continues to establish an engaging presence as the sorority's brainy leader — the Anthony Edwards figure, if you will.
But the importance of being hot and popular can't be the moral here and so Shelley must undergo a makeover of her own, for her brain. The ever-likable Colin Hanks (as in son-of-Tom) co-stars as the first nice guy ever to show an interest in Shelley, which discombobulates her even further.
Rumer Willis (as in daughter-of-Bruce-and-Demi) and "American Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee don't get much to do as a couple of fellow Zeta sisters. They're both literally constricted — Willis' character wears a metal body brace, while McPhee's has an unexpected pregnancy. Not much comedy gold there.
But there's more on the celebrity cameo front. Matt Leinart and Shaquille O'Neal appear as themselves, partying at the Playboy mansion, with Hugh Hefner and the "Girls Next Door" — Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson — making a few appearances, as well. You know, just to ground the movie in reality.