Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Walk Of Shame

Directed by: Steven Brill

Screenplay by: Steven Brill

Starring: Elizabeth Banks
James Marsden
Gillian Jacobs
Sarah Wright
Ethan Suplee
Oliver Hudson
Willie Garson

Music by: John Debney

Cinematography by: Jonathan Brown

Editing by: Patrick J. Don Vito

Studio(s): Lakeshore Entertainment
Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

Distributed by: Focus World

Release date(s): May 2, 2014 (United States, limited)
(Movie was never released in the United Kingdom in cinema or on DVD)

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $15 million

Box-office revenue: $5, 565, 259

As you may have guessed, judging from the recent slackening, I've decided to merge November and December together, at the end of which I will post a general reviews of both months. It's a busy period of the year coming up, and I'm sure that I'll be thoroughly occupied in this regard in the impending arrival of Oscar season. I can guarantee upcoming reviews for numerous movies, including Horrible Bosses 2, The Imitation Game, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Under The Skin, The Basement and Nightcrawler (which I saw before Interstellar but want to see again because in The Strand Nolan's movie was playing in the next screen, occasionally punctuating Dan Gilroy's heavily dialogue-based drama with thunderous noise). There will also surely be more to review along the way, but I want to flag up that last night I once again watched Ingmar Bergman's majestic 1973 film Cries And Whispers. Before I saw this, the prevailing images which I conjured when I thought of the Swedish master were in black and white, but this picture features such a striking use of red, suggesting so many different things. It's an evocative and mysterious picture which, at only about ninety minutes long, is a highly accessible watch. So, with that being said, for all the latest and greatest in the movies, keep your eyes posted!

Today's film up for review is Walk Of Shame, a comedy released earlier in the year, written and directed by Steven Brill, a bit part actor, screenwriter and director who I was not aware of but in the course of my research found has a mixed bag that includes scribing The Mighty Ducks movies, and is also an associate of Judd Apatow and (drumroll, please!) Adam Sandler. So far, so meh! His last credit as a director was as one of the many responsible for last year's disastrously received ensemble-cast anthology sketch comedy Movie 43, which admittedly I have not seen, but from my reputable sources I only hear terrible things about. It even beat out Grown Ups 2, which I labelled the worst film I have ever seen in my years as a reviewer, at the 34th Golden Raspberry Awards, and that to me says a lot with another prime contender being the hideous Will Smith/Jaden Smith vehicle After Earth (maybe Grown Ups 2 was so bad it didn't deserve an award?). Anywho, before I get off topic, we have Walk Of Shame here, so let's get cracking with the plot synopsis!: Meghan Miles (Elizabeth Banks) is a reporter who lands an interview for CNB, a big network. After undergoing this process, during which she admits she's "a good girl" with no "dirt" in her past, it narrowed down to her and one other applicant. Unfortunately, her friends go to her house to find Meghan, disconsolate that her fiance Kyle (Oliver Hudson) has left her, which is compounded by a phone call from her agent Dan (Willie Garson) who mentions that CNB went with the other reporter. Not to be let down, her friends convince her to go out and get wasted, where she meets attractive bartender Gordon (James Marsden), with whom she has a one-night-stand. Hungover the next morning, she gets a call from Dan, who says that other reporter dropped out, and that they need her over at the station so that CNB can give her a test run for the job. However, at the wrong side of town and faced with many obstacles, including a race against time, Meghan must brave a walk of shame through numerous scenarios to get there. If I sound like I'm plot spoiling, I ain't, this is the set up to the picture. Got it? Good!

This sounds awful when you're about to start a paragraph on what is good about Walk Of Shame, but this would have been a lot worse of a film if you didn't have two very likeable actors in the lead roles. I've always thought that Elizabeth Banks is a humorous, charismatic and attractive young woman (who am I kidding, there's nearly two decades between us!) who has all the potential in the world to be a major film star. She can do comedy and drama, both rather effortlessly, and she is a perfectly solid anchor as the film's protagonist, even if she isn't exactly being saddled with the greatest of scripts. Also, James Marsden is another case of someone who should have mad it bigger in the movies: handsome and charming, even in the good movies that he's in, he oftentimes gets saddled with the dullard 'serious man' character (I mean, did anyone really want to see Jean Grey remain with Scott Summers?). Last year, he was very good in Anchorman 2 as Jack Lime, and here, as is the case with Banks, he doesn't have much of a script to work with, but he makes the most of what he's got. Also, while as you've gathered that I wasn't overly fussed on it, I'd be a liar if I denied that there weren't two or three good laughs in the film. I think that the scene I found to be funniest was that with the Meghan Miles character ending up in a crack-house. That was a genuinely amusing scene and if the movie as a whole was more along these lines, I think it would have been a perfectly acceptable comedy. The final thing I can say that I found good about Walk Of Shame is, at risk of retreading waters covered by Roger Ebert in his review for Catwoman, I liked Elizabeth Banks' face, I liked Elizabeth Banks' body, and I liked Elizabeth Banks' yellow dress. Right? Rasp! Blah blah blah!

Now, as you have gathered, I didn't like the film. I cannot say that this was an outrageously bad movie by any means, but as a whole it is a combination of both lazy, unimaginative filmmaking and comedy based upon outrageously outdated social stereotypes. For starters, the whole thing is shot by Jonathan Brown with the most perfunctory of a workman DP's visual aesthetic. The lighting of each of the various locations is overtly suggestive of a given mood or tone, i.e. the news stations have this glitzy glow about them, the boardroom is a cold, intimidating place, the nightclub is all shadows and strobe lighting (with resplendent shots from below looking up at women in tight clothing), the suburbs are hyperreal locales of a comforting sheen, downtown is ugly and murky etc. In short, all rather dull. Then you have the script, which is a rubbish bit of work, the most interesting thing that could come of it would be an interesting article from a sociological perspective. As I said, there is the aspect of laziness (cardboard cutout character tropes, a predictable storyline, etc.), but the most notable thing is that the primary set-pieces and humour are predicated on us buying into ridiculous social stereotypes. During the course of her 'walk of shame,' Meghan Miles encounters prostitutes who harass her for being on their turf, and in turn getting harassed by the bozo policemen (there's a new idea!), bumping into various people of non-white origin, all of whom seem to be drug dealers or junkies, sexually repressed Jews, leery Armenian taxi drivers and Asian masseuses in a massage parlour, which, of course, offers a nuru massage servicing. The only people who might find this kind of thing funny are middle-class, white Anglo-Saxon protestants who find it absolutely hilarious that one of their own is stuck in this outrageous series of situation involving run-ins with the working-class plebs, and I say might because I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and would like to think that they would have a bit more intelligence than that. It would be grotesquely offensive if it wasn't so stupid. The music by John Debney, while nothing overly noteworthy, is of the same lazy cloth I mentioned, in that it is just your typical, run of the mill comedic score with a female protagonist. Why is that any time one of these silly pictures featuring women in the lead roles they have to have these bouncy scores of plucked strings trying to tell us, "ho ho, ho ha, isn't this funny, folks? Here, look, this is funny, isn't it? You're enjoying supposed to enjoying this. Ho ho, ho ha!" The only thing it encourages in me is a severe case of energy depletion with occasional musings of "why am I wasting my time?" Finally, Steven Brill, who as I said, also wrote the screenplay, cannot himself even seem to muster up the enthusiasm for this piece. I don't know the production background on this movie, nor frankly, my dead, do I give a damn, but something tells me that he was hired by the backers on this and told "we're going to pay you x-amount of money to write and direct a comedy," the pitch being left simply at that. Neither Brill or the rest of the crew involved, seem to care much for the film they are starring, and all we are left with is just a boring load of rubbish that is simply not worth your time. 

Walk Of Shame, as I mentioned, is not an outrageously bad film that I can actively get annoyed at. I've thought about this, and I think for a movie to be among the lowest of the low, it has to have a certain agenda and they have to be trying to do something. That's why the likes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, God's Not Dead and Tammy (which, retrospect, was definitely worse than the rating I gave it) would rank as films in that particular category. Walk Of Shame is too lazy to be anything horrendous, and that infectious laziness is probably half the reason I'm going to use it as a lame excuse for just blabbing instead bringing my review to a legitimate conclusion. Professionalism or not, I just don't think Walk Of Shame is worth it.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 3.5/10

The Thin White Dude' Self-Diagnosis - Meh (I just want to get this done and move onto different things)

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