‘Walk of Shame’ Review
It all starts out with such promise. Steven Brill’s latest comedy, ‘Walk of Shame,’ introduces us to Meghan Miles (Elizabeth Banks), polished television news anchor, by way of a series of dramatized versions of famous newscast flubs that highlight exactly what Meghan is not – she’s not unprepared, she’s not unprofessional, and she’s not without some serious skills.
She is, however, without a clue.
Meghan is a bit of a rising star in the news anchor world, so it’s not entirely unexpected that she’s in the running for a big network anchor gig or that she really, really wants it. In fact, Meghan might actually need it – her work is her life, and a recent upheaval in her personal life (her fiancée has just left her, taking her pride, her furniture, and her dog along with him) means that it’s the only good thing in her life – though that doesn’t guarantee her the job. In fact, ‘Walk of Shame’ pretty quickly clues us into the fact that Meghan has not got the job, sending her into a (shame) spiral with some terrible consequences.
Distraught over both the job and the guy, Meghan’s best pals – sarcastic Rose (Gillian Jacobs) and dimwitted Denise (Sarah Wright) – decide to take her out for a night on the town. Why not get blitzed? Why not get wasted? Why not go out to “the club”? Why not hook up with some random dude-bro?
Probably because Meghan hasn’t really lost the job. At least not yet.
The morning after her big night out, Meghan is hit with the news that the job is still hers to win – she just has to get to the studio in literal hours and tape a newscast at her current job and impress some people who want to hire her anyway. Easy! Except she’s stuck in downtown Los Angeles at, yes, some random dude-bro’s apartment, and she soon finds herself without a car, a phone, a wallet, or even a smattering of common sense. What follows is a horror show (a walk of shame! get it?!) of bad people, bad situations, and bad deeds. Will Meghan ever make it to her taping? Will she even make it out alive? Has no one associated with the film’s production actually visited downtown Los Angeles? (At one point, she ends up in a literal crackhouse, which will probably prove upsetting to people who have spent millions on their swanky downtown LA lofts, but whatever.)
The real problem is, once Meghan slips on her little yellow dress (really Denise’s dress, but who cares), all bets are off. Meghan’s choice of clothing may fly (and, alternately, even be fly) in the club, but once she’s out in the world – and the daylight! – in last night’s outfit, she’s instantly cast as a slut. Despite being a recognizable figure around Los Angeles – at one point, a bus zooms past Meghan with her face plastered on it – as soon as she’s perceived as a skank, no one realizes (or cares) who she is. The majority of ‘Walk of Shame’ focuses on the mishaps and misadventures that befall Meghan as she makes her way through the apparent wilds of Los Angeles and nearly everyone she meets is unshakably convinced that she’s a loose woman (and, in more than a few cases, also a hooker and/or drug addict), simply because of the style of her dress and the state of her hair and makeup.
Although all those misunderstandings are key to the film’s narrative – after all, if the first person Meghan encountered on the street didn’t take her for some criminal skank and actually helped her out, there’d be no movie here – the situations Meghan finds herself in run the gamut from unbelievable to truly outrageous. It’s an initially amusing set-up for a film (and, yes, there are some laughs to be found here), but as ‘Walk of Shame’ winds on and refuses to abandon its belief that slutty women aren’t worth helping, things just get uncomfortable and offensive. All of it goes on for far too long before Brill’s script finally pulls back and takes all that slut-shaming to task, and yet the film’s final reversal doesn’t deliver much in the way of actual satisfaction and true comeuppance.
Still, there is some compelling commentary to be found here, if you’re willing to really dig for it, as Meghan never lets the opinions of others impact her own self-image, and her focus on winning her dream job remains admirably sharp (well, until it’s not). Still, the shame aspect of ‘Walk of Shame’ is its most obvious – and wrong-headed – element, the kind that’s hard to shake, no matter how feel-good an ending is tacked on to the feature.
Banks is easily the best part about the film, and her plucky determination and wicked comedic timing help make the film’s worst parts at least somewhat palatable, while also setting Meghan up as a heroine worth rooting for, if only she was in a better and more pleasing film to also enjoy. The film’s talented supporting cast, unfortunately shunted to the side for most of the feature, is also a major credit to the production. Marsden and Banks exhibit a fun, sexy chemistry, and a montage depicting the pair’s drunken late night debacle is a highlight of the film. Similarly, Jacobs and Banks, who probably share the screen for less than ten minutes, are still able to portray the pair’s friendship with honesty and interest. Banks would do better for herself – and her audience – to team up with Marsden for a real romantic comedy or to have some fun with Jacobs in a friendship-centric film, not to subject everyone to a misguided comedy that waits shamefully long to say the right thing.
'Walk of Shame' is in theaters now.