It takes more than one funny idea to make a comedy.
Films that don't seem to grasp this truism are easy to spot—for example, 2009's Bride Wars, or last year's The Heat. At the center of these were what seemed to be a visually hilarious concept: Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson tackling each other in rage wearing wedding gowns; Melissa McCarthy teaming up with Sandra Bullock as kick-butt female cops for what came off as a second attempt at Miss Congeniality 2.
In each case, one kinda funny five-minute sequence was surrounded by a miserably implausible pile of events, characters, and weak stabs at hilarity.
Walk of Shame is no different, and possibly worse.
Directed by Steven Brill (Mr. Deeds, Drillbit Taylor), the singularly funny concept at this comedy's center is the idea of Elizabeth Banks dazed and confused, literally running around L.A. in a tight yellow dress and high heels. As far as visuals go, it's pure trailer treasure. But the entirety of the movie is a sad mess of shameless stereotypes and a script enslaved to furthering Banks' implausible plight.
Meghan Miles (Banks) is an aspiring news anchor and steady as she goes, fond of proclaiming "I'm a good girl." When her boyfriend breaks up with her, her two best girlfriends take her out for a night of drinks so she can forget about him (in essence, a female version of That Awkward Moment for the first half hour). After going home with bartender Gordon (James Marsden) in an inexplicable burst of spontaneity, she gets a phone call in the middle of the night: the job of her life awaits if she can make it to the news center in five hours. Immediately, she loses her car and her phone and is rendered helpless.
Also, Marsden is a writer of "postmodern romance" by day and a bartender by night. "I want to find beauty and praise it." Swoon.
If this film was just trying to be a more-or-less messageless spectacle, it would have done better to avoid the stereotypes. There's a creepy cab driver, a sassy black bus driver, a desperately lustful synagogue-attender, a perverted 12-year-old, tightly-wound cops, a ditsy best friend, Marsden as Prince Charming again (see Enchanted) and three hoodlumy crack dealers who are really sweethearts deep down.
There's also Gillian Jacobs (Brita Perry from Community). She's here as the other best friend, the one who answers the phone calling Banks a "dirty hooker" and saying things like "Don't be a cock blocker!" At this point, it's almost a Hollywood staple to have this best friend figure, a type most often represented by Krysten Ritter (Confessions of a Shopaholic, She's Out of My League). I've always been bothered by how admirable this character type appears to be, as she devotedly drags her friend out of the house into bold escapades (which usually end at The Club). It's a character typically called "no-nonsense," but more than anything it usually serves to make the main character look more timid and good-girly, and to aid her metamorphous into some sort of unrepressed free spirit by the end. But why is being "good" so gross?