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Elizabeth Banks takes a long Walk Of Shame in this throwback class comedy


Walk Of Shame

Director: Steven Brill
Runtime: 95 minutes
Rating: R
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs

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Walk Of Shame seems modeled on the class-clash comedies of the 1980s. Though nobody says “yuppie,” most of the humor is rooted in Reagan-era attitudes and comic devices: the dangerous, confusing inner city, where any outsider is immediately mistaken for a criminal; the big promotion; the conspicuous status symbol—in this case, a yellow Marc Jacobs dress—that gets tattered and torn as the protagonist slips down the socioeconomic ladder, but which she later wears with pride in order to show how much she’s changed.

Elizabeth Banks stars as Meghan Miles, a news anchor who gets mistaken for a hooker on her way home from a one-night stand. Crossing Los Angeles on foot in order to recover her car and wallet from an impound lot, Meghan encounters johns, drug dealers, cops, and angry cabbies, most of whom assume that her tight-fitting “girls’ night out” get-up and stiletto heels mean that she’s for sale. (In one of the film’s better gags, only the drug dealers recognize her, and a trip to a crack house quickly devolves into a feedback session about her newscast.) The premise should provide plenty of opportunities to skewer the way women are perceived based on appearance, with Shame as the operative word, but writer/director Steven Brill (Little Nicky) uses it mostly as a magnet for broad ethnic humor. One cringe-inducing sequence finds Meghan hiding out from the cops in a massage parlor, where she adopts a mock “Asian” accent and introduces herself to a client as “Kim Jong-il.” 

Despite the presence of cell phones, awkward social media references, and an ending that pays lip-service to the premise, Walk Of Shame ultimately boils down to the sort of normative comedy that was popular 30 years ago—the kind that ribs the well-off and upwardly mobile for their prissiness, in a way that feels like the Hollywood equivalent of a joke about the boss’ golf game at a company Christmas party.