walk of shame

DIRECTOR: Steven Brill

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

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

CLASSIFICATION: 13 L

RATING: 2 stars (out of 5)

Frank Scheck

The sight of Elizabeth Banks clad in a short, tight, clingy yellow dress for most of the film’s 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 cellphone, Banks succeeds in mining a few laughs from the otherwise strained, contrived proceedings.

The central character Meghan is up for a cushy job at CNN run by executives who’ll tolerate no moral trespasses. Her trouble begins when, despondent over a break-up with her fiancé, she takes up her girlfriends’ offer for a +night on the town, forgoing her usual staid pant suit and getting tarted up in said dress and heels.

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 flat and discovers her car was towed, along with her purse, ID and phone.

A series of wacky episodes ensues as Meghan, constantly mistaken for a prostitute (really, in LA, 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 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.

The film is occasionally amusing, with 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 humour, including Kevin Nealon’s 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 armour, 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 her comic chops are the equal of her beauty. Now if she could only find a better vehicle to show them off. – Hollywood Reporter

If you liked Friends with Benefits or The Ugly Truth, you will like this.