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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Walk of Shame movie review: Slut Shaming, The Motion Picture

Walk of Shame red light

If you don’t think it’s hilarious that a woman dressed for a night out would “naturally” be mistaken for a prostitute, there is nothing here for you.
I’m “biast” (pro): I like Elizabeth Banks

I’m “biast” (con): I hate the very concept of the “walk of shame”

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Behold the laugh-free comedy. The bizarre thing is that if you ultimately agree with The Message Walk of Shame delivers in the end, the movie would appear to be laugh-free on purpose. Which could make this one of the most inept movies ever made. (Alas for the viewer that it is not at least laughably inept.)

Elizabeth Banks’ (The Lego Movie, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) Meghan, out of an evening in Los Angeles, gets drunk with her friends; meets cute with a funny, gallant, gorgeous stranger, Gordon (James Marsden: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, 2 Guns); has fun with him; ends up in bed with him; and it’s all good. Seriously, the montage of their goofy shenanigans is sweet and and sexy: not only is their attraction palpable, but so is the really nice sense that they genuinely like each other. That’s a rare thing to see in a romantic comedy, a genre so often predicated on the overcoming of dislike or even disgust.

But this is not a romantic comedy. It is a pile-on of humiliation. In the middle of the night, overwhelmed — I guess — with embarrassment, or else simply because the idiotic script demands that she behave with guilty stupidity in order to kickstart the plot, Meghan stumbles out of Gordon’s apartment to discover that her car has been towed. She has no wallet (it was in the car), no phone (she accidentally left it upstairs), nothing but her car keys, and she can’t get back in to Gordon’s place. So she starts walking across L.A.

Now, Meghan is a “good girl” — this she repeats several times in case we missed it, and even her boss (Willie Garson: Sex and the City 2, Fever Pitch), later wondering where she is, conveys this to a third party, as if he would have any idea. As if it matters. But she dressed “a little slutty” for her night on the town, so on her travels, which extend past dawn into the next day, she is constantly and repeatedly mistaken for a hooker. Because that would happen. (She doesn’t look like a prostitute. She looks like a woman who has been out clubbing, which is what she was doing. But she’s not in a potato sack or a burqa, so she must be selling her body for sex. *grrr*) She is mistaken for a stripper and forced at gunpoint to agree to perform a lap dance for a cab driver. (Fortunately, she escapes before she has to go through with it. But remember: this is supposed to be hilarious.) A rabbi calls her a temptress. A little boy orders her to “show me your boobs.” A random stranger on the street calls her on her “walk of shame.” (God, how I despise that term and all its implications. No one cares if you stayed out all night and had sex. It’s like our entire culture is unable to move beyond junior high.)

Just to mix it up a bit, once the drug dealers get involved, she starts getting called a “crack whore.”

It gets worse.

At every turn, Meghan faces the presumption that she is a sex worker or one variety or another, and this is the entire foundation of the film’s “humor”… with just a soupçon of undertone that because she’s a “good girl” who did, in fact, have sex, this may not be entirely undeserved a misapprehension. There is literally nothing else that fills the “this is where the comedy goes” slot. And then comes the real gall of the movie: Meghan is a local news anchor, and when she finally makes it in to work the next afternoon to discover that she has been turned into a news story herself, the crazy hooker who’s been running around town being a crazy hooker, she delivers a speech on camera to the city about how ridiculous it is that everyone thought she was a hooker. Now, this is certainly true. But if that is so contemptible a misconstrual of her situation, why has the movie been trading on that, hoping to make us laugh at how uproarious it is that everyone thought she was a hooker?

Walk of Shame wants to have its slut, shame her too, and then scold you for being so base as to have enjoyed — if you have — its slut shaming.

Bad enough that writer and director Steven Brill — a frequent collaborator of Adam Sandler’s, which gives you an indication of the level Walk of Shame is operating on — is so disgustingly misogynist throughout this waste of celluloid. But he also doesn’t seem to understand how comedy is supposed to work. If anyone should be taking a walk of shame, it’s him.


red light half a star

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Walk of Shame (2014)
US/Can release: May 2 2014 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: direct to VOD

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated RWS (contains retrograde ideas about women and sex)
MPAA: rated R for language and some sexual content
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, sex references)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    Wow. Even worse than the trailer, since that seemed to imply that Meghan had problems other than being mistaken for a prostitute — simply being a white woman in a black part of town, for example.

    Do people still leave valuables in their cars? Really? Scriptwriter Steven Brill was born in 1962, so he has no excuse for not knowing better than that. I guess his answer would be “it doesn’t have to make sense, it’s just setup for the KOMEDY”.

    But it’s OK, there’s that final scene so we’re not degrading women. Honest.

    Pteh.

  • Do people still leave valuables in their cars?

    She was super drunk. (She didn’t drive.) But yeah, the contrivances required to get this plot going are ridiculous.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, it would be nice to say that Elizabeth Banks has come a long way since she played Betty Brant in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man but since so many of the roles she has played since then have been such thankless roles as Beth the “weird girl” in 2005’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Dr. Kim Briggs (aka John Dorian’s most-dissed love interest) on the TV series Scrubs and Effie Trinket (everyone’s favorite dystopia apologist) in the Hunger Games movies, it is not exactly a great shock that she seems to be playing yet another thankless role. Only this time she gets to dress up like the Christina Applegate character on Married, with Children.

    Personally I would have hoped that this comedy would turn out to be more in the tradition of After Hours and the original Out of Towners — which managed to mine genuine humor from equally dubious situations — but apparently that was just wishful thinking on my part. My bad.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Of course if it were not for the term “walk of shame,” we would not have this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gQbAlFP6rg

    Probably NSFW and probably not everyone’s cup of tea but more watchable than the trailer for Walk of Shame. Not that’s saying much…

  • Danielm80

    See also: Anna Faris, Rachel McAdams, Emily Blunt, Keira Knightley…

  • She’s a news story? An apparent sex worker going for a walk is a news story? Like, has this never happened before in the city of Los Angeles?

  • No, no, she gets mixed up in all sorts of shenanigans, like a “hate crime.”

    Now that I think of it, this is also an accidental indictment of the idiocy of local news.

  • Rob

    While I can get behind a lot of these, I can’t agree with Effie Trinket as being “thankless”. It’s a small role but she is absolutely magnificent in every one of her scenes and conveys so much going on beneath the surface, sometimes with just the smallest of inflections. Banks was also hilarious in Pitch Perfect, and in probably her best, most dynamic role, Jack Donaghy’s love interest, the conservative cable correspondent on 30 Rock.

  • Tonio Kruger

    My use of the word “thankless” was not meant to be taken as an insult to Ms. Banks’ acting ability, but rather as a description of the type of roles she has played.

  • David

    I love Elizabeth Banks. I think she is gorgeous, extremely charismatic, and can do comedy and drama. I keep waiting for her to get that one really starmaking role. I guess I still have to wait.

    “and she can’t get back in to Gordon’s place. So she starts walking across L.A.” I don’t get it, why wouldn’t she just ring the doorbell?

    Also, as a man, I would feel crappy if a woman just left my apartment like that without any kind of note or anything.

    Finally, mistaken identity is not funny if it requires the people making the mistake to be really stupid.

  • I don’t get it, why wouldn’t she just ring the doorbell?

    He lives in a big apartment building with dozens of bells, none of which are labeled. It’s not clear at that point if she even remembers his name, anyway.

    Also, as a man, I would feel crappy if a woman just left my apartment like that without any kind of note or anything.

    As a woman, I don’t want to sleep with anyone I wouldn’t want to have breakfast with the next morning. So I don’t get that, either.

  • sky

    I thought this movie was hilarious. It was a slow take off but once it took off I was entertained. And who cares what makes since, as long as it keeps my attention. I saw amazing spiderman 2, I fell asleep another love story ugh. Further more plenty of us women had a walk of shame whether we want to admit it or not. And welcome to the year 2014 people sneak out after one night stands. Duh

  • LaSargenta

    There is no shame in a one night stand. There’s nothing to ‘admit’ and it is only small-minded, hypocritical bimbos (male and female bimbos, both) who call going home early in the morning after a fun fling a “walk of shame”. Gtfo and move to Peyton Place. That’s where that mindset belongs.

  • HVM

    I won free tickets to this movie that includes popcorn and coke and I’m still not sure if I want to go.

  • Beowulf

    Walk of Shame is officially closed on Box Office Mojo with a total take of less than $60,000, 67% of which came on the opening weekend.

  • LaSargenta

    I could see situations where I wouldn’t want to stay all night…and they wouldn’t necessarily be about the fling, but other practicalities or just where-I-am-emotionally at that moment. None of those preclude wanting to have sex.

  • RogerBW

    Yikes.

    Film-going public shows actual taste. Surely some mistake?

  • DRJ

    Sometimes, I think reviewers give bad reviews because only bad ones build their reputations. I found this movie HYSTERICALLY FUNNY, without exaggeration. The only way I can see anyone not appreciating this movie’s humor is if she comes in with preconceptions that prohibit her having any fun with certain kinds of stories.

    The ironic thing here is that ‘Walk Of Shame’ is actually about the OPPOSITE of “slut shaming.” If you actually listened to Banks’ final on-air speech, you would have gotten that loud and clear.

    Meanwhile, I thought every second of this movie was carefully thought through to maximize the humor and the good time I had watching it. My personal fav is Pookie (of course) but the whole thing was an unmitigated riot of fun.

    I’m surprised that a site which normally publishes such excellent movie reviews (e.g., Interstellar!) could get this one so completely wrong. As noted — it’s probably because of some misplaced preconception about the way this movie treats women. I say ‘misplaced’ because in fact, as noted, the movie’s true statement — voiced at the end — is the exact opposite of the kind of thing it spoofs so very, very well.

    Of course, if you take the spoof seriously, then sure, you could easily be turned off. The point is, though — IT’S A COMEDY. You gotta see and appreciate it as such.

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