It's not as if audiences are clamoring for Homeric tales done up in the creaky comedic style of late era Blake Edwards, but that's what you get in "Walk of Shame." Surprisingly, with Elizabeth Banks in the lead, it fits like a tight yellow cocktail dress worn to shed a goodie-two-shoes reputation. "Walk of Shame" is far-fetched, absurd and hopelessly schticky, but if you can get past its boring initial set-up, it's actually quite funny. This is a movie that you will watch scenes from on cable for years to come and, yes, that is meant to be something of a compliment.
Banks, one of the more gifted comic actresses of our time, is Meghan Miles, a Texas-bred "good girl" working as a local TV anchor in Los Angeles. ("That b*tch from the news!" as some colorful street characters address her.) She's on the verge of getting a national gig, but when it looks like that's slipping away, and after her boyfriend dumps her, she agrees to let her two girlfriends (Gillian Jacobs and Sarah Wright) take her out for shots, dancing and bad behavior. After a meet-cute on a fire escape she ends up going home with James Marsden. He's a nice guy, smart, sensitive, handsome and willing to chow down on pepperoni pizza in his underwear (foodsex perverts: this movie is your "Citizen Kane.")
In the middle of the night Meghan checks her messages to find that she's got one last shot at the big gig. She splits Marsden's apartment just in time to watch her car get towed away. Thus begins a series of shenanigans that takes Meghan on an odyssey through LA's underbelly - or, at least, an ancient comedy writer's version of LA's underbelly. (I have no idea how old writer-director Steven Brill is, but his world view is more Sid Caesar than Adult Swim.)
Meghan and her bright, bosom-enhancing dress run afoul of angry white trash prostitutes, African-American drug pushes, perverted Hassidic Jews, Asian massage parlor madams and whatever ethnicity the fat guy from Borat is supposed to represent. PC this movie ain't, but the quips and zings are sharp. There's one gag - just a stupid throwaway line from a crackhead named "Pookie" - that is the funniest joke I've heard in a movie in six months. There are some whose moral outrage will disallow them from ever laughing, but these are the same people who can't stand "South Park," and, really, is there anything we can do for them?
While Banks' long trek back to work (during a Los Angeles freeway blockade called "Carpocalypse") is the heart of the film, the side characters are what keep it afloat. Ethan Suplee and Bill Burr play two dopey cops on her trail, and they end up bumping into and mirroring Jacobs and Wright. It's cute. It's all very cute.
The end of the movie tries to tack on some sort of message about slut-shaming, but feel free to swat it away like the studio note it so clearly is. No one is coming to "Walk of Shame" for a message. This is a solid vehicle for Elizabeth Banks to show off her comedic chops and to look sloppily sexy while doing it. I only wish Madeline Kahn were still alive to play her mother in the sequel.