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cultural vandal | 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

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