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Walk of Shame

2014 | 95 min | R | 2.39:1

Walk of Shame


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Theatrical release date

 02 May, 2014

Country of origin

 United States

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Walk of Shame


Screenshots from Walk of Shame Blu-ray

Walk of Shame Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, May 2, 2014

I’m not sure what Elizabeth Banks was hoping to gain by agreeing to star in “Walk of Shame,” but I’m certain she’s not going to feel much in the way of positivity once the public begins sampling the picture. Uselessly crude and insistently moronic, “Walk of Shame” features the type of story that could be completely washed away if the main character simply stopped to explain herself. However, that approach would negate the movie, leaving writer/director Steven Brill to groggily dream up nonsensical ways to keep this attempt at a screwball comedy on the go, subjecting Banks to lethal screenwriting and aggressive supporting performances.

A local L.A. television news anchor, Meghan (Elizabeth Banks) is hoping to join the networks, interviewing for a primo job that could change her life. When her competition is selected for the gig, Meghan is plunged deeper into depression already triggered by the loss of her fiancé. Friends Rose (Gillian Jacobs) and Denise (Sarah Wright Olsen) have decided to lift the fog with a night on the town, getting Meghan drunk at a club, where she meets bartender Gordon (James Marsden). After a night of inebriated sex with her one-night-stand, Meghan is informed that her services are needed at the network, with an audition imminent. With her car towed and purse missing, the newscaster is forced to cross the city on foot in a short yellow dress, bouncing from encounter to encounter on the hunt for a phone, a ride, or money -- whatever it takes to get to the station and achieve her dreams.

The helmer of “Drillbit Taylor” and “Without a Paddle,” Brill isn’t exactly the first guy on the list when one thinks of proven comedy directors able to tackle the potential of this episodic exploration of humiliation. Nevertheless, “Walk of Shame” is his baby, accepting top creative credits for this pedestrian effort, which utilizes misunderstandings and racial stereotype humor as its main sources of inspiration. The feature even opens lazily, with a montage of newsroom blunder videos that have become a staple on YouTube, though only a small portion of the clips are authentic, with the rest painfully manufactured with bad actors and stiff timing to either preserve visual consistency or cover for budget problems. The awkward introduction sets the indifferent tone of the film, finding Brill largely unconcerned with details.

To embrace Meghan’s dash across Los Angeles, there has to be a reason to trust that the character is completely out of options, in over her head without necessary tools of survival. The newscaster doesn’t have her purse, leaving her penniless and without a phone, and bouncing around in a tight dress isn’t helping matters, with everyone just assuming she’s a prostitute. However, Meghan doesn’t seem like she’s an idiot, and even half-drunk, the character is gooned up severely by Brill, who needs to keep his leading lady dumb to lubricate the shenanigans. It’s frustrating to watch the escalation of monkey business knowing that there are multiple ways out of this predicament.

Of course, without Meghan’s simple problem-solving abilities and basic efforts of communication, we wouldn’t have such a plethora of comedic encounters. We watch Meghan stumble into the rough part of town, approaching a trio of African-American crack dealers (Lawrence Gillard Jr., Alphonso McAuley, and Da’Vone McDonald) as she hunts for a cell phone, quickly recognized by the group and given audience notes on her television presence, also gifted a vial of crack as a going away present. There are two unmotivated cops on her trail (Ethan Suplee and Bill Burr), always one step behind a woman they initially designated a hooker. Meghan meets an orthodox Jewish man in the process of fighting temptation, demanding she belt out a song in return for help, resulting in a brief “Call Me Maybe” sing-along. There’s some roughhousing with a kid over the use of his bike, and, in the movie’s worst scene, Meghan slips into an Asian massage parlor, giving herself the name “Kim Jong-il” as she struggles to keep a corpulent client (Ken Davitian) from recognizing her. There’s also a running gag about Meghan’s fear of cats, but that’s D.O.A.

If the situations weren’t dreary enough, the supporting cast is primarily tasked with shouting lines at the star, with Jacobs particularly obnoxious as Meghan’s alpha gal-pal who doesn’t possess an inner monologue. And Marsden doesn’t have anything to do here, written as a clichéd sensitive type (Gordon writes romance novels when he isn’t selling booze and having sex with strangers) who pops in the third act to help find the lost reporter. As for Banks, the sparkle she typically brings to funny business is missing, often caught struggling to summon enthusiasm for Brill’s flaccid screenwriting.

“Walk of Shame” has a germ of an idea concerning the delicate nature of social media history, watching network officials step carefully during the hiring process -- an idea that could inspire its own movie. Yet, Brill quickly returns to the dopey stuff before concluding “Walk of Shame” with an absurd “be true to yourself” message that’s completely bogus. However, the stupidity of such a closer would be more offensive if the rest of the picture showed even the slightest care with its premise. Instead, Brill just slaps random sentiment on an already scattershot effort.

Starring: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Ethan Suplee, Oliver Hudson, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright (VII)
Director: Steven Brill

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