Can’t be any worse than the books. Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk and Mike Epps star in Fifty Shades of Black.
Director – Michael Tiddes
Screenplay – Marlon Wayans & Rick Alvarez
Producer – Marlon Wayans & Rick Alvarez
Rated R for strong crude sexual content including some graphic nudity, and for language throughout
After being interviewed by the frumpy, uber-tight virgin Hannah (Kali Hawk), Christian Black (Marlon Wayans) has finally found a playmate for his constant erection, and he’ll go to great lengths to get her to sign his deviant sex contract and then wail on that sweet squeeze box ’til that naughty little bitch begs for no mercy.
Okay, fuck it. I’m not doing this again. Just go to my review of Fifty Shades of Grey, read that and then add poop and dick jokes. That’s exactly what Fifty Shades of Black is.
So it looks like Marlon Wayans is back to torture us moviegoers once again, following 2013’s A Haunted House and 2014’s A Haunted House 2 (or, as what they might as well have been called, Scary Movie VI and Scary Movie VII). This time, it’s no longer found-footage ghosts being parodied, but Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic trash that inexplicably turned into a cultural phenomenon. Unlike the source it’s parodying, however, I doubt Fifty Shades of Black will enjoy the same box office success. Judging from Marlon’s last few efforts, I’m thinking viewers are starting to catch on to how not funny they are. A Haunted House grossed $60 million on a $2 million budget. Its sequel dropped down to $24 million on a $4 million budget. If I and the two other girls that comprised the entire viewing audience of the screening I attended are any indication, then it’s safe to assume that Marlon is now experiencing the wrath of diminishing returns.
As odd as it sounds, Fifty Shades of Black is just a smidge disappointing. Yes, I realize I’ve now already given Wayans, the man involved in such laugh-out-loud classics as White Chicks and Little Man, more credit than he deserves, and of course, you gotta wonder if there’s any point to spoofing a series of novels that are nothing but a joke to begin with, but hear me out. There’s a nugget – just a small nugget – of potential in what Wayans and his co-writer Rick Alvarez are going for here, and that’s being totally aware of the absurdity of its source and ripping on the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey‘s fetishism is not romantic but disturbing and Christian Grey is actually a giant fucking creep.
And yet millions of sexually frustrated soccer moms all around the world get their panties soaked to that amateurishly written shit.
To this film’s credit, and there I go again with my overwhelming generosity, it squeezed out a few laughs at me. Of course, in the long run that means nothing, but even a few laughs is more laughs than both A Haunted House films combined. Though humorless slapstick is what we’ve come to expect from Marlon Wayans, clever gags do manage to wander into this stink-pile, in particular, the sole laugh-out-loud moment where Christian Black introducing Hannah to his “Red Room of Pain” which contains whips named “Amistad”, “12 Years a Slave”, “Django Unchained” and “Glory” (the punishment of choice ends up being Joe Jackson’s whipping belt). Are said clever gags rare? Yes, but even rare is enough for them to know better than to settle for low-hanging fruit.
Then again, what the hell else was I expecting?
The film’s biggest issue is that it continues the trend spoofs follow now where they cram as many pop-culture references as can be crammed into the film regardless of whether or not it bears any connection to the parodied subject (though, in fairness, it does maintain more focus on its primary target than the recent slapdash travesty Scary Movie V). Toss in a “Black Lives Matter” reference? Sure, why not? Who cares if it makes sense or not? It’s a popular hashtag these days and that’s really all that matters. What does Whiplash have to do with Fifty Shades of Grey? Absolutely nothing, and its out-of-left-field reference sticks out like a sore thumb (a nod to Magic Mike seems more appropriate for this film, but actually ends up faring worse). Plus, would either Wayans or E. L. James’s fanbases even get the reference? Probably not.
And that’s what is so disappointing here. No, I didn’t expect a laugh riot in any way, shape or form, but even though Fifty Shades of Grey is an easy target, Wayans could’ve made a mildly clever skewering of the books and recent film adaptation if he bothered to put even just an ounce of effort into the script instead of kicking back and tossing in another lazy genital sight-gag. Satire? What’s that? Why waste your time on that when you can get a shot of someone’s swollen balls? Yeah, Marlon Wayans thinks big, swollen balls are funny. You know ’cause they’re – like – big.
I give up.
Well, at least Marlon thinks it’s funny.
Someone has to laugh.
Fifty Shades of Black is just as painfully unfunny as everyone else that didn’t see the movie undoubtedly thinks it is. The over-the-top, juvenile at best gags are forced and even for a Fifty Shades of Grey spoof, the gross-out genital humor is extremely off-putting. It’s a shame too. Not that I expected better, but there was a time when both the Wayans family and the spoof genre were popular fixtures in Hollywood. Airplane! and The Naked Gun are classics, and In Living Color pushed the boundaries of sketch television. That was then, though; this is now and now, they both seem desperate and sad as they coast on the fumes of whatever popularity they have left.
I give Fifty Shades of Black a D (★).