The 50 Shades of Black Anti-Climax
The original was funnier than the parody.
By Jacoby Bancroft, University of Nevada at Reno
I don’t know what I expected. This was a bad movie.
Overall Grade: D+
….What? You mean I have to write more about the new comedy 50 Shades of Black? That could prove to be difficult. Not as difficult as actually sitting through the 92 minute run time of Marlon Wayans’ latest spoof movie, but pretty close.
For those who don’t know, the painfully unfunny 50 Shades of Black is a parody of the unintentionally hilarious 50 Shades of Grey movie. To recap, the plot of the original film had shy, mousy virgin Anastasia Steele suddenly get brain damage and become attracted to an abusive, emotionally distant psychopath. Or…something along those lines.
Look, I understand that there’s a dedicated audience somewhere out there who views the love story at the heart of the 50 Shades franchise as a serious examination of dominant and submissive relationships. It’s a kink. It’s a lifestyle. It works for some people. I get that. Though I just can’t say that I understand.
Maybe if the original movie did a better job of fully exploring what it means to be in that type of relationship, I would have enjoyed it more. Instead I walked away from 50 Shades of Grey utterly baffled.
Then along came 50 Shades of Black, which I hoped would take the original movie and use the material to make a smart, satirical film. On paper, it must have sounded great. I mean the plot of the original film seemed to be begging for a spoof. Unfortunately, 50 Shades of Black just forgets to be funny. It offers nothing deeper than crude jokes and a few mindless chuckles.
Although a majority of the scenes are ripped straight from the original movie, they fail to wring any real humor out of them. Instead of actually commenting on the outlandishness of the original plot, 50 Shades of Black rests too heavily on penis jokes and an obese lady who screams out vulgar obscenities.
I laughed through 50 Shades of Grey. I started playing with my shoelaces during 50 Shades of Black because I was so bored. When the original movie is funnier than your spoof, that’s a serious problem.
To be honest, I feel bad ragging on 50 Shades of Black because its star, Marlon Wayans, seems so committed to his role. I have to give the guy credit, he’s a master at over-the-top facial expressions and his overall enthusiasm does make him enjoyable to watch. He has a shtick that he definitely excels at, seemingly never giving less than 120 percent.
In a way, his physical performance harkens back to the days of the great silent film stars like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. I wish I could say it’s the writer’s fault for giving him horrible material to work with in this film but…he wrote it.
I can’t remember the last time I was actively rooting for a movie to end so that I could leave the theater. For some reason, those 92 minutes felt like an eternity and I couldn’t help my mind from wandering as the movie turned it into mush.
I kept looking at Marlon Wayans and thinking to myself how he and Matthew Lillard should make a movie together. Maybe they would be cops who stumble upon a mountain of cocaine. Maybe Matthew Lillard starts dating Damon Wayans’ ex-wife. Maybe they could play lifelong friends who decide to make an epic beer run one Saturday night. This is what my mind became preoccupied with while I was supposed to be invested in the movie playing on the giant screen in front of me.
Although the movie never goes beyond the easy jokes like “Christian Grey is a creepy stalker” or “50 Shades of Grey is a poorly written novel,” the one smart thing the movie does is recognizes that the ending of the original movie isn’t really an ending at all.
50 Shades of Grey just kind of ends abruptly with an awkward goodbye at an elevator, but 50 Shades of Black actually tries to have some sort of resolution. It goes beyond the elevator conversation and has Christian chase after his lover and apologize for everything. I would count this as a good thing, but at that point, I was begging for the movie to be over. When I saw that there was still more left, I sat there grimacing.
I gave this movie a D+ at the beginning of this review, but I’ve talked about it for so long that my opinion has lowered even more. Skip this movie.
Overall Grade: D-