THE HOUSE BUNNY — ** — Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Colin Hanks; rated PG-13 (vulgarity, profanity, slapstick violence, slurs, brief partial nudity)

Anna Faris, you're a funny person. Or at least you can be funny in the right material, which is why you deserve better than "The House Bunny."

We all deserve much better than this dumb comedy, actually. Basically this is what you get when you allow males to make a supposed "girl-power" movie.

What's worse, some of those males include cronies of Adam Sandler, whose "Happy Madison" production company was responsible for the film. And as a result, it is filled with Sandler's brand of humor, such as cheap sexual jokes and references.

Again, this didn't need to go that direction. Especially with the multitalented Faris ("Smiley Face" and the "Scary Movie" series) starring. She plays the title character, a Playboy Bunny named Shelley.

Her sole ambition is to be featured in the magazine's much-ballyhooed centerfold. Instead, Shelley is rather unceremoniously thrown out of the Playboy Mansion when she gets too old (she's 27, or "59 in bunny years").

The clueless blonde does land on her feet, though. In fact, she winds up becoming the house mother to Zeta Alpha Zeta, an unpopular sorority that needs to get new pledges or its house will be closed.

In its own bizarre, bungling way, the film does try to rip off both the "Legally Blonde" and "Revenge of the Nerds" movies (it's from the two of the writers of the former). But it doesn't have half the charm of either.

Director Fred Wolf ("Strange Wilderness") is also largely to blame, since none of this is staged very effectively.

And it continually wastes the talents of Faris and a pretty good cast, who get at least a couple more laughs out of this material than it deserves. Emma Stone plays the somewhat dorky leader of the Zetas; Colin Hanks is a kindhearted nursing home employee who romances Shelley.

"The House Bunny" is rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor and slang, as well as some scatological jokes and references, scattered strong profanity (including one usage of the so-called "R-rated" curse word), slapstick violence (pratfalls and some animal violence), derogatory slurs and language, and brief, partial female nudity. Running time: 97 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com