Walk of Shame is an After Hours-style comedy about a well-known TV news anchor stranded in Los Angeles without her car, her purse, her keys or her phone. As she wanders through downtown in the middle of the night and then through what looks like the Macarthur Park area in the early morning, she is routinely mistaken for a prostitute, publicly humiliated and rarely allowed to speak on her own behalf.
Perhaps you have now decided to believe that the film is a comic nightmare-metaphor about women whose careers place them before the public and the ways in which the media brutalizes and judges them. You should not make that mistake. It’s just a movie where a woman in a tight dress gets called a whore.
Elizabeth Banks is that woman. She’s up for a new anchor job, one involving a contract with an infantilizing 50s-era morals clause, which leads to her repeatedly telling everyone in earshot that she’s a “good girl.” And it’s while balancing on the tightrope leading to this golden ticket that Banks puts on an expensive Kardashian-esque bandage dress, hits the town with her best girl friends, ties one on and goes home to the magically bohemian downtown loft space of a handsome bartender/writer (James Marsden) for some sex. And then she gets locked out.
A rational person might knock on the door of that apartment until the person inside answered and gave her back her phone. But rational people are not interesting creatures in this film’s universe. Clueless people with no sense are the engine that drives this sputtering vehicle, clueless people who don’t know their way around their own city, clueless people who don’t read well or often, clueless people who need to be punished for having sex. Without them the movie would be over. And the movie needs something to do.
So deep into the night goes Banks, crossing paths with aggressive cops who mistake her for a prostitute (she’s a woman in a dress at night, after all) and then into the crack den of a dealer and his associates, where she is again mistaken for a prostitute (still a woman, still in a dress, it’s still night). An Orthodox Jewish man, forbidden to interact with women, promises to help her in exchange for her singing "Call Me Maybe." A young boy promises to help her in exchange for a peek at her breasts. It stumbles on and on like this, pointlessly, forgetting all the lessons taught to cinema by Wanda Sykes in Pootie Tang, where her character, Biggie Shorty, defiantly states: “Just 'cause a girl like to dress fancy and stand on the street corner near some whores, you automatically think she's hookin'?”
Yes. Prove you're not. This is no metaphor. Prove you're a good girl.