While many films stand the test of time, others fade into obscurity. Whether this happens over a period of years or almost instantly upon a film’s release, each of these titles has slipped through the cracks of our collective memory to join the ranks of the Films That Time Forgot.
Comedy movies seem particularly susceptible to flying under the radar, and Walk of Shame is a perfect example. Released in 2014, it stars Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright Olsen, Bill Burr, and Ethan Suplee. Somehow, this impressive cast of comedic stars didn’t help it to stand out – Walk of Shame was almost instantly forgotten.
It tells the story of Meghan Miles (Banks), an LA newscaster who always tries her hardest to play things safe. However, when her fiancé leaves her and she misses out on her dream job, she goes out for a reckless night on the town with her friends. While out of her comfort zone, she meets charming writer Gordon (Marsden), with whom she shares a one-night stand. Woken by a call telling her she might yet earn her dream job, she rushes out to find herself stranded in an unfamiliar part of town. Meghan must try to get back across town to work with nothing more than the revealing dress on her back and the heels on her feet. Obviously, hilarity ensues.
Walk of Shame earned mostly negative reviews from critics, but this isn’t unheard of for a comedy. It also tanked at the box office and failed to find any real audience, causing its instant passing into obscurity. Despite its wealth of bankable stars, it’s clear that something must have gone very wrong for Walk of Shame.
Walk Of Shame Wears Its Ignorance On Its Sleeve
Unfortunately, Walk of Shame‘s issues are many, and they’re obvious. There are a number of conceptual flaws leading to major plot holes; ultimately, the whole movie revolves around several easily-rectified misunderstandings. Perhaps worst of all, though, is the undercurrent of prejudice and harmful stereotyping that runs throughout the entire movie.
Meghan is repeatedly mistaken for a sex worker by everyone she meets, just because she’s wearing a form-fitting dress. It’s played for laughs, but it ultimately comes off as deeply misogynistic. There’s also a significant amount of racial stereotyping: Walk of Shame‘s Black characters are drug dealers and criminals, and its police officers are lazy and corrupt. Several reviews highlighted these issues, although they also seemed to miss the point somewhat.
For all the stereotypes and apparent misogynism of its weak writing, Walk of Shame tries to make a statement on the treatment of women in modern society. When Meghan acts and dresses conservatively, she’s labelled a prude. When she reluctantly dresses more provocatively, she’s mistaken for a sex worker. No one wants to help because of how they perceive her – no matter what she does, she can’t win. It almost seems clever, but then again, it also seems potentially inadvertent.
Walk Of Shame’s One-Woman Show Works Remarkably Well
Walk of Shame‘s writing might leave much to be desire, but its acting doesn’t. Most of the film follows Meghan as she meets various people across the city, meaning that Banks is undeniably the star. She genuinely shines throughout, bringing a sense of vulnerable frustration to the character. She can’t quite make Walk of Shame‘s unfunny script genuinely amusing, but she does make its protagonist engaging and likeable.
Walk of Shame also uses its supporting cast to good effect. Bill Burr is allowed to play to his strengths as an impatient cop with deep-seated anger issues. James Marsden manages to be the same affably charming love interest he’s played many times before. Ethan Suplee acts delightfully simple-minded, as does Sarah Wright Olsen.
Honestly, it’s not hard to see why Walk of Shame received such poor reviews at the time of its release. The issues with its writing are glaring, and they’re hard to overcome. Even so, its stars make a sound job of bringing the story to life, making it effortless fun in spite of its flaws. Though it may not be comedy gold, it’s still entertaining and well-meaning enough to be enjoyable.
Summary: Walk of Shame isn’t particularly funny, nor is it clever. But it is charming, in its way, and Banks helps to make it an enjoyable easy watch. Does it deserve to be forgotten? Probably not, but it’s simply not as good as its stars deserve.
Highlight: Walk of Shame‘s reasonably satisfying conclusion is classic feel-good comedy fare, and belies just how much the film makes you care about its characters. It’s a genuinely impressive feat for a film with so many glaring issues.