Let’s face it. Everyone has done the infamous walk of shame. Whether a night of debauchery and partying is to blame or you’ve met the man or woman of your dreams and couldn’t help but spend the night, we’ve all experienced returning home the next morning still wearing our outfit from the night before, as we walk by early morning joggers and hate ourselves. There’s no age limit for taking part in a walk of shame. The only thing that changes is you make sure to bring your Tempur-Pedic pillow with you, because once you hit your thirties you have neck alignment issues.
Walk of Shame, directed and written by Steven Brill, is the latest female comedy vehicle to hit theaters this 2014 summer season. Meghan Miles (Elizabeth Banks) is a local Los Angeles newscaster who‘s up for an anchor position at a prestigious cable news network. After her boyfriend dumps her and she learns that she’s being passed over for the coveted job, she reluctantly goes out with her two best girlfriends and drowns her sorrows with shots of tequila. She subsequently gets stuck on a fire escape and the nightclub bartender, Gordon (James Marsden), who doubles as a postmodern romantic fiction writer, comes to her rescue. Faster than you can say one night stand, she ends up back at his place and when she stealthily sneaks away just before sunrise, she finds her car’s been towed, which is where she left her purse and cellphone. What ensues is Megan’s quest to escape downtown Los Angeles (LA) and get to the impound lot to retrieve her car, so she can get to the news station by 5 P.M., in order to wow the cable news executives who have decided to give her a second look. Someone page Kurt Russell and let him know that the sequel to Escape from LA has been made.
Elizabeth Banks falls back on her comedic talents, which have been dormant during her last few films, and nicely carries Walk of Shame all by her lonesome. With a stripped down plotline, the focus is always on Banks, and she does her best with the hit or miss dialogue to land most of the intended jokes. She’s also quite strong in her ability to carry out the physical comedy and elicit laughs, but never turns it into cheap slapstick or pratfalls. She even garners empathy for her predicament, despite its quite ridiculous premise. I mean we’ve all gotten lost at Universal Studios trying to remember if we parked our car in the Jurassic Park or Curious George garage, but trapped in downtown LA? Most Angelinos know when in doubt just look for the 10 and head West.
Walk of Shame peppers humor throughout, playing on various stereotypes to gain laughs. But there are a few standout scenes where I found myself laughing aloud, despite my film snobbery preconceived notions that I wouldn’t even break a smile. Brill manages to make the scene where Meghan gets caught in a crack house hilarious, despite being so politically incorrect it would get Jesse Jackson’s knickers in a twist. They had me at their “588-2300 Empire” carpet joke. No further explanation needed.
As a director Brill also does a fine job showcasing LA. The city, and especially downtown, plays as a second main character throughout Walk of Shame. He contrasts the seedy underbelly of downtown LA, with its hookers and drug dealers, against the city’s beautiful skyline. The audience travels with him from downtown to Hollywood and to Mid-Wilshire, where each neighborhood highlights its eclectic properties.
It’s true that some women go home with men they meet at a bar or nightclub, especially after “Shots, shots, shots.” But there was something disarming about the way in which Meghan is picked up by Gordon. At first, he seems concerned for her welfare and doesn’t want her to drive home drunk. He offers to call her a cab, but this idea is quickly changed to one in which he’ll drive her car to her place and then call a cab from there. My intrinsic serial killer alarm system began buzzing louder and louder when I heard this. If he’d just said, “Come back to my place and get your car tomorrow” I wouldn’t have been worried that he might be the next Ted Bundy. No matter how drunk Meghan was, it seemed strange that she’d go anywhere with Gordon.
Elizabeth Banks is a beautiful woman and having her in a skin-tight yellow dress throughout the film only further reminds the viewer how gorgeous she looks. Despite James Marsden’s dreamy blue eyes, she upstaged him in all of their scenes together, and this is the opinion of a female interested in men. But the amount of make-up she dons throughout is ridiculous. It’s like looking at an airbrushed cover of Vogue and akin to the old Carl’s Jr. commercials where Paris Hilton bites into a large burger exuding sex appeal. My only question was what are they selling? Because it certainly wasn’t a plot.
The first thirty minutes of Meghan’s attempted escape from downtown LA is funny. The first thirty minutes of Meghan’s attempted escape from downtown LA is funny. The first thirty minutes of Meghan’s attempted escape from downtown LA is funny. Oh, did I just repeat myself? I’m sorry, but I wanted to make sure you knew how it felt to watch the next hour of Walk of Shame. The continued shots of Meghan running in high heels down the streets of LA and attempting to evade the police became tedious beyond belief. This simplistic plot-line of trying to get somewhere or to someone and having every obstacle get in your way has been depicted in films a million times before. However, these other films did it more successfully, such as in The Hangover. (And I even hated that movie. I know, don’t hate me for it.)
Walk of Shame has more than a handful of funny moments, and that’s a lot better than the majority of comedies released today. Its spoofs of local news stories are actually better than those in Anchorman 2. But if you’re looking for a comedic film with some depth, some unexpected twists, and layers of any kind, just re-watch Knocked Up for the hundredth time.
Take a Drink: every time Meghan, her friends, or Gordon take a shot.
Take a Drink: every time any character says the words, “Crack” or “Dick”. Yes, it’s that type of film.
Do a Shot: every time there’s a scene with Chopper Steve (Kevin Nealon).
Shogun a Beer: when you notice the over the top product placement for Trojan Condoms.