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Walk of Shame (II)

"Banks is the center of attention in every scene, partaking in a barrage of directionless humor that all amounts to redundant comedy within the film."

Steven Brill's Walk of Shame is a lame endeavor; one that belongs in the "maximum antics, minimum laughter" sub-genre of comedy rather than one that makes adequate use of its simple premise and has more than situational humor and a willing lead actress that is willing to submit to the film's material in any way. I define a film in the "maximum antics, minimum laughter" subgenre as one that relies on shock humor, incredulous gags, or just downright situational stupidity over thoughtful things like character quirks, witty banter, or intelligently-written scenarios, which, if you think about it, are things that not only give us a temporary laugh but make comedies memorable and bear a lasting impression on their viewers.

What Walk of Shame does is sometimes seriously appalling for reasons that aren't even remotely funny but seriously questionable from a societal point-of-view, which I'll dive into after elaborating on the plot. The film resolves around the quirky and effortlessly-lovable Elizabeth Banks as Meghan Miles, a popular news anchor, whose choice to partake in a night of drinking backfires in an unpredictable way. After the night, Meghan is left stranded in Los Angeles with no money, transportation, or any form of identification, and needs to make it to an extremely important job interview in eight hours.

Walk of Shame
Written & Directed by Steven Brill
Cast Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs
Release Date 2 May 2014
Steve's Grade: D+

Meghan wanders throughout the shady areas of Los Angeles, bearing beautifully-curled blonde hair and a bright yellow Marc Jacobs dress that makes her stick out like a sore thumb. This, of course, must be the case, for when she gets into all these sticky situations, she must be viewable from every conceivable distance and, not to mention, the thought that anyone would wear a neon yellow Marc Jacobs dress is worth a chuckle in itself. What's disheartening about this setup is that everywhere she goes, Meghan is mistaken for a hooker or a "crack whore," adhering to the discomforting notion that women are still heavily judged on what they wear by the masses in a demeaning way. Not to mention, when Meghan finds herself in "the hood" of South Central Los Angeles, she is mistaken by every gang-member and drug-dealer for a hooker, in addition to a stale situation of Meghan wandering into rival gang territory trying to trade a dealer crack-cocaine for about ten dollars. Don't ask.

In the midst of all this nonsense, Banks is the center of attention in every scene, partaking in a barrage of directionless humor that all amounts to redundant comedy within the film. However, let it be heard that Banks is a trooper through all this nonsense, working through several scenes of dead-end comedy that often possess little payoff. It has been less than a week since I saw "The Other Woman," another film that possessed a lot of dead-end comedy but succeeded because of its capable lead actresses, leading me to be optimistic in the idea that the actresses were paid more than the writer of the film. I return with the same optimism for Walk of Shame, and affirm my belief I held after watching Banks in Pitch Perfect - she's a wonderful charisma with the right amount of energy and quirkiness to have the luxury of being the leading lady in many different films.

In Walk of Shame, however, it's sad to see such a talent wasted on material that makes for a rather laborious ninety-four minutes. The whole entire affair feels like a half-baked, overly-stereotyped, and completely inane Mad Libs session gone wrong, and that would be an understandable criticism for maybe an improv session at a local comedy club. For a scripted comedy, it's kind of ridiculous for such a complaint to be iterated.

Review by Lead Film Critic, Steve Pulaski

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