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Walk of Shame: Film Review

10:44 AM PDT 5/2/2014 by Frank Scheck

The Bottom Line

Banks delivers an amusing slapstick turn in this otherwise strained, formulaic comedy


Steven Brill


Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright Olsen, Kevin Nealon, Ethan Suplee, Bill Burr, Lawrence Gilliard Jr.


Elizabeth Banks plays a woman stranded on the downtown streets of Los Angeles without a car, money or phone in Steve Brill's comedy.

The sight of Elizabeth Banks clad in a short, tight, clingy yellow dress for most of its running time is the primary pleasure of Walk of Shame, Steven Brill's one-note comedy in which the actress, much like her hapless character, does her best to survive under trying circumstances. Playing a television news reporter forced to traverse the mean streets of Los Angeles on foot sans money or cell phone, Banks succeeds in mining a few laughs from the otherwise strained, contrived proceedings.

The central character, Meghan, is up for a cushy job at a national cable news network run by executives who'll tolerate no moral trespasses. Her trouble begins when, despondent over a recent breakup with her fiancé, she takes up her girlfriends' offer for a night on a town, forgoing her usual staid pantsuit and instead getting tarted up in the aforementioned dress and high heels.

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Getting rip-roaringly drunk, she manages to get her foot stuck in a dance club's fire escape, only to be rescued by handsome passing stranger Gordon (James Marsden). After their resulting one-night stand, she slinks out of his apartment, only to discover that her car has been towed with her purse, ID and phone still in it.

A series of wacky episodes ensues as Meghan, constantly mistaken for a prostitute (really, in L.A., where even this dress would be considered practically demure?), finds herself interacting with a gallery of eccentric characters, including a trio of drug dealers at a crack den; a surly, armed cabbie; a sassy bus driver; a Hasidic man who thinks that she's been sent by the devil to tempt him; and a horny adolescent boy who offers to lend her his bike if she’ll show him her boobs. All the way she's relentlessly pursued by a pair of bumbling cops who treat her as if she’s Public Enemy No. 1.

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The film has its occasionally amusing moments, such as the drug dealers delivering a surprisingly thoughtful critique of Meghan's news anchoring skills and her run-in with an officious car impound clerk (a very funny Tig Notaro). But most of the would-be humor, including Kevin Nealon’s seemingly improvised riffing as a feckless traffic reporter monitoring the action from his helicopter, seems lazily tossed off.

Marsden's laid-back quality serves him well as the handsome knight in shining armor, and Banks certainly doesn't have to do a walk of shame regarding her performance. Gamely throwing herself into her character's desperate physical exertions, she delivers a winning turn, proving that her comic chops are the equal of her beauty. Now if she could only find a better vehicle to show them off.

Opens May 2 (Focus World)

Production: Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, FilmDistrict, Lakeshore Entertainment

Cast: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright Olsen, Kevin Nealon, Ethan Suplee, Bill Burr, Lawrence Gilliard Jr.

Director/screenwriter: Steven Brill

Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Sidney Kimmel

Executive producers: Ted Gidlow, Jim Tauber, Matt Berenson

Director of photography: Jonathan Brown

Editor: Patrick J. Don Vito

Production designer: Perry Andelin Blake

Costume designer: Lindsay Ann Mckay

Composer: John Debney

Rated R, 94 minutes