Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Walk Of Shame (Part 1)

Incoherent, unfunny, and borderline misogynist, Walk of Shame lives up to its title for filmgoers entering and leaving the theater.” - RottenTomatoes.com

With a review like that, how could I possibly resist this one? I'd never heard of this, but judging by its box office I'm guessing no one else did either. It was released in theaters on May 2, 2014 and enjoyed an epic run of several weeks where it grossed a whopping $60,000 against its budget of $15 million dollars, then quietly came out on home video a month later. This thing bombed harder than a Heidi Montag album.

Steven Brill wrote and directed today's box office darling. He is the man behind such cinematic titans as Mr. Deeds, Drillbit Taylor, Without A Paddle (but not its sequel because I guess even hacks have standards), and my personal favourite LITTLE NICKY, a film which actually featured a character looking directly into the camera and saying “Popeye's Chicken is the shiz-nit!”.  With a man this talented behind the camera and the script, this movie HAS to be quality right? Let's find out with A Ghoul Versus Walk Of Shame!


Our film opens with lots of clips of news reporters failing at their job, which are all actually recreations of famous YouTube clips including my all-time favourite of Isiah Carey taking a grasshopper in the mouth.  I'm pretty sure a couple are the real things, but no way am I invested enough in this movie to find out. Our last clip is of Los Angeles reporter Meghan Miles, played by Elizabeth “Yes, they had VERY damning blackmail photos of me and that's the only reason I'm here” Banks, who is doing a story at a pet shelter when she gets attacked by cats.

The movie begins with Meghan heading to “CNB”, the famous national news network we all know and love, for an interview so she can step out of doing local news and into the big leagues. Her interview goes pretty well, the executives asking if she has any skeletons in her closet. She replies she doesn't, as she's a “good girl”.  We cut to two weeks later as she learns from her producer Dan that it's just down to her and another reporter named Wendy Chang. She gets a call from her best friend Rose, who is played by Gillian Jacobs, an actress who sure can pick TV shows to star in (hello, Community!) but can't pick a good movie script to save her life.

Rose wants to go out to celebrate, Meghan pointing out she hasn't gotten the job yet which Rose dismisses as a “minor detail”. Meghan delivers the news, the top story there's going to be major construction on the freeway this weekend and it'll be shut down while this goes on. We meet Chopper Steve, played by a horrifyingly unfunny Kevin Nealon, who is the station's “eye in the sky” helicopter pilot. I'm guessing Nealon must have spent all of his money from Weeds already, and is HELLA bitter about it judging by the performance he turns in here.

I probably should mention that this IS a comedy... in theory. Comedy is the most subjective thing in the entire world to review, as it is SO interpretative to everyone. But I think it's safe to say there's a generally accepted rule that good comedy actually tries to be witty, going for something a little deeper than a man getting hit in the crotch or a man dressing like a woman.  However, even physical comedy has its (slight) place in the world but the one thing I can't STAND is stereotypical humour. The over-reliance of per-established cliches that we've all seen a thousand times over with NO attempt to bring any kind of new ideas to them.

Nealon plays such a character here: the eternally self-depreciating loser. “Wah wah, my life sucks and I hilariously talk about suicide a lot”, you know what I'm talking about. I should be thankful though, he inspired me to actually stay interested in this movie by playing a game “Guess What's Going To Happen Next” since it seems like things might get a tad predictable All of my guesses were written as I watched the movie for the first time, so I had NO idea what was going to happen.

Later that night Rose arrives at Meghan's house along with their other friend Denise, whom is wearing the skin tight Marc Jacobs yellow dress that's been plastered all over the marketing of this movie. Denise is really really stupid, but at least they avoided the cliché of having her be blonde. Oh wait, Denise ISN'T the brunette? Dammit.

They find Meghan's house is almost empty, as her fiancee Kyle has recently left her and taken everything with him. And just to make sure we get that Meghan's life sucks, she gets a call from Dan who informs her CNB has gone with Chang for the job.  What happens next?  I think Meghan is going to go out with her friends for a night of montage drinking and dancing, get completely hammered, go home with some handsome stud, and end up making a walk of shame home because the guy turns out to be CRAZY!

Rose tries to cheer her up by saying they'll take her out for a night of fun, having Meghan switch clothes with Denise so she can look "nice and slutty". This is nitpicking here but the dress is pretty short on Denise, played by actress named Sarah Wright who is a rather tall 5'9”. When Elizabeth Banks, who is barely 5'5”, puts it on, it's also somewhat short on her despite the fact it should go down to her knees.

They go out drinking, and we have montage drinking and dancing! Meghan gets hammered and goes to find the bathroom, opening a door and I SWEAR the second she opened it I knew she was going to get locked outside because the door wouldn't have a handle on it.  That happens, but thankfully she runs into the bartender who served her drinks earlier. He's played by... JAMES MARSDEN?!? Wow, going from The Butler to THIS they must ALSO have some seriously messed up photos of him doing unspeakable things. Worse than starring in The Box even!

James Marsden REALLY better be careful from here on out, as he is THIS CLOSE to getting typecast as the dumb hunky guy for the rest of his career. He and Meghan go on to exchange some banter so chemistry free that the movie has to shove romantic music in to make us believe they're actually “hitting it off”.  The music does the trick, as she wants to go back to his place. Since he's sober and doesn't own a car, he drives her car back to his place. I think a scene got cut here where the two make a bet over who can do the WORST impression of a drunk, because the next scene makes no sense otherwise. If this movie actually had a wide release, this single scene probably would have killed both actors' careers.

The “drunker” they get, the more they start losing their clothes until they have sex. Meghan wakes up early the next morning, gathering her stuff up but is unable to locate her phone. She uses James' phone (they haven't given him a name yet) to call her voicemail, discovering Dan has left her a message that Chang isn't getting the job because scandalous pictures of her have surfaced on Twitter and that makes her too risky for CNB. Can you even remember what movies did for plot devices before the internet? I'm truly starting to forget. Dan tells her the network is going to come watch her broadcast today to make sure she's a right fit for them.

It appears I was wrong about James turning out to be CRAZY, but called everything else. I'm guessing Meghan is going to leave his place, making the walk of shame as she engages in a citywide adventure full of WACKY AND ZANY situations as she tries to make her way to work so she can land her dream job!  As Meghan goes to get her dress a cat appears, blocking her path and glaring at her ominously.

In addition to the opening, they've made a reference that cats hate Meghan so this is going to be a running gag I'm sure. She grabs a box and traps the cat underneath it, grabbing her dress and putting it on. She then turns around to find the cat free and ready to attack, a demonic CGI look on its face.  The cat starts chasing her as she grabs the rest of her things and books it out the door. I can't say I blame her for that one, that cat was straight out of the fiery pits of Hell. Outside, she sees her car being towed away as James parked it in a tow-away zone.

She tries to go back to the apartment, the security door is locked and she has no idea which apartment James lived in so she can't buzz him. She spots a nearby taxicab, but as she approaches it the driver pulls a gun on her because he thought she was trying to sneak up on him. Being set in Los Angeles I can accept that, what I can't accept is the cabbie JUST HAPPENS to be Middle Eastern and doesn't speak English that well.

This, of course, leads to a KNEE SLAPPING bit where she wants him to drive her to the place they “tow to” which he misunderstands as “Tattoo”, a strip club. BWA HA HA HA HAH! How do they think of this stuff?!  She tries to explain this misunderstanding, but the only thing he gets out of it is she doesn't have any money as her purse was in her car. He threatens to drive her to jail, which is where a SMART person would be all “Fine! They can help me straighten everything out!” but as we're going to learn Meghan is faaaaaaaaaaaaar from a smart person.

The cabbie is under the impression that Meghan is a “working girl” based off how she's dressed, and it's safe to say that's ALSO going to be a running gag throughout the movie. I wonder if Brill actually wrote a script for this movie or just had a checklist of cliches he filmed off of.  He demands she give him lap dances in lieu of money, lap dances set to Alanis Morrissette music because... I literally have no idea. Is that really good stripping music? Who hears “Thank You” and wants to start bumping and/or grinding? Meghan is all “AW HELL NO!” but he pulls his gun again because THAT'S not rapey at all, so she agrees to give him two lap dances. Yikes.

Meghan proceeds to get out of the cab and takes off running, quickly getting lost in the dark and dangerous streets of LA. She flags down a car for a ride, but when the guy discovers she ISN'T a hooker he drives off. Sigh. Is that going to be the WHOLE movie? One paper thin joke stretched across an half and a half movie? Also, does she REALLY look like a hooker? 

Maybe it's just me, but I just don't think she looks like a hooker at all. I suppose the dress is a little short even though it should be four inches longer, but I don't know... she just looks like a woman dressed up for a nice party to me.  And speaking of hookers, they start appearing out of thin air and harass her for tricking on their turf. We see two cops are watching this unfold from nearby, jumping to the same conclusion about Meghan that everyone else has so far.

They YELL at her, telling her to grow the fuck up and drive off, completely ignoring her as she tries to explain what's going on. WOW. That was actually a pretty disturbing scene, despite the follo wup dialogue with the two assholes trying to justify it as “tough love”. A cabbie trying to coerce Meghan into giving him lapdances with a gun to cops being cruel assholes, are you laughing yet at this "comedy"?  The hookers chase Meghan away as the sun begins to rise. So instead of trying to find another taxi or a local business where she can borrow a phone, what does she do? If you answered “track down some drug dealers and ask to use their phone”, thank you SO MUCH for reading my movie review Steven Brill!

The dealer she approaches is, of course, a young black man named Scrilla who talks “street”. I actually thought for a second they were going to go with the “street thug who talks eloquently which is funny because that's not how you think they'd talk!”, a trope which is almost equally as prevalent as the street talking kind, but it was a 50/50 shot. Scrilla... what is this the fourth or fifth scene in a row of the exact same joke already? I've lost count. Scrilla thinks Meghan is a hooker, which she does nothing to dispel by talking as vague as humanly possible. It's like she gets DUMBER every scene so the movie can keep happening.

Before any more stupidity can happen, cop cars pull up and start chasing Scrilla. Meghan runs after him because... um... because. Did I mention this was a comedy? I know it's very easy to forget that, so here's a sample of the quality jokes this movie gives us:

Bitch, why you so fast?!”
I ran track in high school!”

WHOO! Really swinging for the fences with that one! Though I am impressed Meghan is able to run in high heels, so there's that. They make their way to Scrilla's hideout, where a giant of a man named Hulk demands to know why Meghan is there. Good question!  Meghan quips she was “running from the 5-0” and BOY am I starting to not like this movie now. Hulk asks who she is, Scrilla saying she's just some “dumb hoe” to which Meghan readily agrees. Did I say not like? I meant HATE. The parade of stereotype continues as Hulk turns out to be the SMART drug dealer and I SWEAR I didn't know they were going to do that in advance.

Hulk thinks Meghan is an undercover cop in her expensive Marc Jacobs dress, because he's also a fashion expert and... damn my attention is really starting to drift here.  As Scrilla and Hulk argue over whether Meghan is a hooker or a cop, a junkie named Pookie wanders into the frame and says Meghan is “the bitch from the news”, which she ALSO readily agrees to.  Ohhhhkay, what has Elizabeth Banks been up to since Scrubs? Let's take a look at her last few major movies:

The Lego Movie (2014) – grossed $467 million
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – grossed $864 million
Pitch Perfect (2012) – grossed $113 million
The Hunger Games (2012) – grossed $691 million

That is over TWO BILLION DOLLARS. Either she a) got paid in day old seafood instead of money, b) got in deep with the Japanese Yakuza and owes them some serious yen, or c) those blackmail photos Steven Brill has of her involving Malaysia Flight 370. Those are the ONLY reasons I can accept why she signed onto this travesty.

In the film's obsession to hit rock bottom, Scrilla wonders why a reporter would be in the hood sucking dick for crack. When Meghan says that's not what she's doing, Scrilla counters with “so you haven't sucked a single dick tonight?” to which she hesitates as she remembers her night with James. For the love of God, just TELL THEM WHAT HAPPENED!  This is the worst kind of movie, where everyone is brain dead just for plot convenience.  And relies on racist and sexist stereotypes. And has Godawful jokes that are too highbrow for your average CBS sitcom. And- this might be my longest review ever if every scene is going to piss me off this bad. Pookie goes on to tell Meghan what a fan he is of hers... and then launches into some very insightful tips on how she can improve her demeanor during broadcasts.

I guess a couple of Meghan's braincells start sparking as she FINALLY tells the drug dealers what's going on. Amazing, absolutely amazing. Scrilla gives her his phone, buuuuut in probably the only realistic moment in the ENTIRE movie happens as she realizes she doesn't actually know anyone's phone numbers as they're all just speed dials on her cell. I begrudgingly have to give this film that one.

Click here for Part 2!