Walk of Shame Review: Nobodies Walk in L.A.
Because it needs to constantly reaffirm that the protagonist is indeed a good girl, Walk of Shame is a walk of the same. But, please, nobody tell Elizabeth Banks because she is in comedic Attack of the 50 Foot Woman mode and, like her character, she’s so much better than what the situation appears to be.
Nancy Archer’s signature cocktail dress has been updated from white to yellow; the interstate she has to cross is identified as the I-10 and the reason for her journey is not vengeance against a cheating husband. This woman on a rampage is out to advance her career.
Also Nancy Archer is no longer a heavy drinker, who’s recently been freed from the loony bin. No, she’s Meghan Miles (Banks). And she’s a good girl.
Throughout Walk of Shame, Meghan Miles will be confused for a prostitute: on the street, in a crackhouse, on the bus and in a massage parlor. Why would this happen to such a good girl? For one night – and one night only! – on the behest of her friends (Gillian Jacobs and Sarah Wright Olsen) she ditches the pant suit for something “slutty” and goes on the prowl for the one-eyed monster. She ends up going home with Cyclops (James Marsden). Who, suspiciously, is named “Gordon”, suspiciously writes “post-modern romance novels” and suspiciously lives in downtown Los Angeles, where he suspiciously takes the subway because he doesn’t own a car.
Why’d Meghan Miles need the hanky panky? Because being good hasn’t paid off for her.
She is no longer engaged and she is no longer in the running for a national cable news anchor position. That is, until the person who got the job didn’t pass a background check. Now, Ms. Miles, who’s now car-less (towed), phoneless (left at “Gordon’s” apartment) and penniless (purse was in the car) lives out our modern first world nightmare of trying to get somewhere sans our modern accoutrements.
Her friends track down “Gordon,” and together they set out to rescue the good girl who’s setting off various police blotter codes on her journey to get to work on what is now the biggest day for her career.
Walk of Shame is the sort of film that drops a bombshell into a crackhouse, and you kinda wish she never had to leave the crackhouse. Even though it’s a far-fetched scenario, that’s where the jokes pop. And when they work, who cares how far-fetched it is?
While Banks feels a little forced when having to play goody-goody (Jacobs advises her to take out her aggression on someone’s penis and she responds, “I don’t do that with penises”), she is comic aces when she looks like a liar. Such as when she asks a crack-dealer named Scrilla (Lawrence “Where’s Wallace?” Gilliard, Jr. from “The Wire”; still slingin’ rock and workin’ them corners) to hide her from the cops.
The fellas inside the crackhouse – Hulk (Da’Vone McDonald), the enforcer, and Pookie (Alphonso McAuley), the crackhead – are definitely sketch comedy druggies in name and demeanor, but who cares? It works. Ms. Miles – or “the bitch from the neeeeews” as Pookie calls her – gets vulgar, but is still nice (seriously screenwriters, those distinctions don’t have to be entirely separate for women). And – despite the crack, some sprayed bullets and some jokes about fellatio and burning exes alive – the crackhouse is the safest place that Ms. Miles is in for the rest of her walk of shame. It’s a quid pro quos-free zone.
Outside the crackhouse, Ms. Miles meets a series of folks – policemen, a taxi driver, a bus driver, a school boy, and a Hasidic Jew who make instant assumptions of her personhood due to her clingy yellow dress. In this fast-paced comedy, that’s a bit of a problem. It’s rushing from scenario to scenario to tell the same joke. It’s like The Warriors was remixed as an anti-slut-shaming PSA.
When Banks is reacting to jokes that mix-it up from that formula a bit – such as at a stiff but politically correct job interview, and encounters with a bridge troll and an unhelpful impound counter employee (Tig Notaro) – she proves that she’s a comedic actress who’s more than ready to carry her own movie (regardless of attire). But in Walk of Shame she’s mostly given a joke that ultimately looks like her dress: run over multiple times.
In comedy, skid marks trump tread marks.