Walk of Shame (2014) / Comedy

MPAA Rated: R for language and some sexual content
Running Time: 95 min.

Cast: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright Olsen, Bill Burr, Ethan Suplee, Ken Davitian, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Alphonso McAuley, Da'Vone McDonald, Kevin Nealon
Small role: Tig Notaro, Niecy Nash
Director: Steven Brill
Screenplay: Steven Brill

Review published May 6, 2014

Elizabeth Banks (The LEGO Movie, Catching Fire) stars as local Los Angeles news anchor Meghan Miles, who has gone out with her best gals for a night of drinking following a missed opportunity for a much-desired network gig. After copious shots, Meghan ends up hitting it off with friendly and handsome bartender Gordon (Marsden, Anchorman 2) and ends up at his house for more together time. After pretty much passing out, she wakes up in the middle of the night and discovers a voice mail that the woman to whom she was passed up for in the promotion is not working out, and they want to check out Meghan after all -- and they want to meet with her that day! She makes her way out to her car, which contains her ID and money, only to discover it has been towed, she forgot her cell phone in Gordon's locked building, and she is attired in only high heels and a skimpy dress. Now she has no choice but to venture out through some of the most seedy parts of town in an effort to make her way to the new career opportunity she's been waiting for.

Written and directed by Steven Brill (Without a Paddle, Mr. Deeds), the movie will likely remind some of a kid-less Adventures in Babysitting, which itself was a retread of Martin Scorsese's After Hours' formula. With each repeated carbon copy, the formula seems less funny, and though Walk of Shame will occasionally stumble upon a genuine laugh here and there, they come too few and too far between to view the film as successful, despite a very game performance by Banks.

The screenplay is chock full of ethnic stereotypes of lower-class Los Angelinos, and all too often Brill has to rely on trite slapstick to punctuate scenes that aren't particularly funny on their own terms. Far too much humor revolves around strangers immediately assuming that Miles is a hooker -- an angle that is obvious and not too funny on its own, and certainly less so wit each of the twenty or so instances that subsequently occur. The entire premise seems to revolve around the assumptions people make when they see a woman in a short and skin-tight dress, as she may be, like Meghan, quite wholesome (she describes herself as a "good girl"), but everyone else casts their own aspersions upon her based solely on what they choose to see.

Gang bangers, drug dealers, Hasidic men with female-voice fetishes, surly bus drivers, gun-waving cab drivers, horny teens, and stupid cops are all about, as Brill doesn't know where to go with his story except to encounter more buffoonery around the town. Like the main character, the plot meanders aimlessly and seems to want to get out of every situation as soon as they begin, but doesn't know how without a lot of running around.

Banks' fans will likely like her gutsy physical performance, easily the best thing about the film, but few others will be charitable in this shallow and highly contrived situation comedy. Many will perform a "walk of shame" of their own after leaving the theater having plunked choice dollars on this misfire.

Qwipster's rating:

2014 Vince Leo