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Entries in Walk of Shame [2014] (1)


Walk of Shame (2014)

Anchors A-wayward

How does a romantic comedy starring Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, and Gillian Jacobs limp into random theatres and onto VOD--heralded only by negative reviews doubling as a marketing campaign? Easily, it turns out. As a survivor of this utterly laugh-deficient misfire, I'm here to insist that you avoid Walk of Shame altogether.

It serves me right, I guess, for having neither watched the trailer, read the synopsis, nor read the rotten articles that have popped up since writer/director Steven Brill's farce froze to death in the shadow of last weekend's Spider-Man sequel. The opening ten minutes are fine: Banks plays Meghan Miles, a Los Angeles local-news anchor who must fight for a snazzy network job after an embarrassing on-air incident nearly destroyed her career. On the advice of her boss (Willie Garson), she plans to play things extra straight while the execs are in town.

Of course, because she's a professional woman in a broad comedy, her slick exterior hides a fragile personality--plus, she has relationship issues. When best friends Rose and Denise (Jacobs and Sarah Wright, respectively) show up to her home, they learn that Meghan's fiancé (Oliver Hudson) has left, and Meghan didn't get the job. A night of shots and bar hook-ups ensues, with our hero doing lots of things that would be unflattering, should they wind up on the Internet.

Meghan awakens in Gordon's (Marsden) bed; he's the hunky bartender whose place she went back to for drunken games and drunker sex. Checking her phone, she finds a message saying that the network passed on the first candidate, and wants to audition Meghan during that night's broadcast. This should be a simple matter of excusing oneself and getting home for some rest and a few thousand showers before heading to the office.

Sadly, Walk of Shame takes an hour-and-ten-minute detour from Meghan's potentially interesting career struggles, to become a kid-free remake of Adventures in Babysitting. From the pre-dawn hours, all the way up to her big moment in front of the execs, Meghan steals a bike from a kid; runs afoul of two oblivious cops (Ethan Suplee and an utterly compelling but completely out of place Bill Burr); befriends a trio of "hilarious" crack-heads; survives a gang turf war; and breaks her car out of an impound. There's more, I'm sure, but my mental Recylce Bin has already purged much of this movie from the ol' desktop--to ensure more important memories are kept intact. For instance:

Watching this film, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Banks in Zack and Miri Make a Porno. That movie was not only genuinely funny, it was about something. Banks is a warm, watchable, comedically talented actress, but she needs strong material to overcome the stigma of being just a fit, attractive blonde in a skin-tight dress. Had Walk of Shame been my first experience of her as a performer, I doubt I'd have been compelled to seek out her other films. As the actress branches out into other avenues like producing and directing, it would be nice to see her leave this kind of garbage behind and pursue more assured projects--as she did with 2012's smash, Pitch Perfect. 

Walk of Shame will likely fade from the mass consciousnesses as quickly as it does from the filmmakers' resumes. Steven Brill wastes a mega-talented cast on relationship tropes, borderline-racist/sexist social commentary, and L.A. traffic gags. Rarely does a movie's title sum up the experience of everyone involved, from consumer to huckster. But there it is.

*As it stands, this is Banks' second massive misfire, behind Movie 43--a legendary flop that I love, for the record, and which also features Brill on its long list of culprits.