So I watched Fifty Shades of Black…
I miss mainstream spoof movies. It’s been quite a while since someone produced a highly-intelligent and richly funny mockery of film. Marlon Wayans is pretty much the only person left trying to keep this dying genre alive but his latest attempts (A Haunted House 1 & 2) aren’t nearly intelligent or humourous enough. When I saw this film’s trailer I was more than a little excited. The trailer had made me laugh in parts and I actually enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey and thought it would be fun to see it being spoofed. Unfortunately, this movie was not fun…at all.
Okay, basic plot: Hannah Steele (Kali Hawk) is a mild-mannered college student who has to interview reclusive millionaire, Christian Black (Marlon Wayans), for her college’s newspaper. The two have an instant attraction and are soon dating but Christian has a dark secret. His sexual preferences are…peculiar and soon Hannah learns the lengths she’ll have to cross in order to keep their relationship alive.
The most important part of a comedy (especially a spoof) is its ability to generate laughs. Bad acting can be overlooked, poor story forgiven as long as the overall product leaves you in stitches. I spent half of this movie waiting for it to become funny and the other half counting down the seconds until it ended. This was not a pleasant movie-going experience. This film is fifty shades of…something but that something is not funny. This film is so obsessed with trying to be shocking and controversial that it completely skips over functioning as a comedy. The jokes are forced and written to make the audience feel uncomfortable rather than entertained. Even the parts that had made me laugh in the trailer had completely lost their humour once the overall context of the film had been added.
Since this movie isn’t funny, I had plenty of quiet time to think and properly dissect it. One of the most important aspects of any good spoof movie is separate identity. You think of movies like Airplane, Naked Gun, Scary Movie, Austin Powers; they all have a clear, distinguishable identity from the subject matter they’re making fun of. A good spoof mocks something – it doesn’t mimic it. It dramatises and exaggerates work but doesn’t blatantly try to recreate it. Fifty Shades of Black clings far too tightly to the original subject matter and ends up being a poor facsimile instead of a worthy parody. This movie recreates Fifty Shades of Grey almost scene for scene and changes only minor details at cheap attempts at comedy. The best spoofs – I’ve always felt – have independent stories that feature exaggerated elements of the original subject matter; rather than scene for scene recreations. This film is lacking a sense of self and because it rides so closely to the original Fifty Shades of Grey comes off as a cheap ripoff instead of a well thought-out spoof.
Next to this film’s bland, humourless story, the poor acting was probably the next biggest issue I had with the film. Marlon Wayans is a funny, charismatic comic but he overdoes it in this film. You can see that he’s desperate to generate laughs and in the end, I think he’s just too involved in the project to see how he’s hurting it. He wrote, produced and starred in this film so perhaps Michael Tiddes was too afraid to tell him to tone it down because even though he’s the director, Wayans is his boss.Or maybe (and this is more distressing) Tiddes thought that Wayans was nailing it. Either way, it was horrible to watch. Wayans isn’t alone in his overacting with co-star Kali Hawk making sure to complement his horrendous performance with an equally terrible turn. I’m sure I’ve seen rocks with more enthusiasm and comedic skill than her. She’s completely flat and delivers every line with the humour and charm of a fresly lobotomised mental patient.
There are also some pretty big names in the supporting cast of this film with people like Jane Seymour, Mike Epps and Affion Crockett making appearances. They do alright jobs but the lack of quality in this film strangles any semblance of quality they could have provided and leaves their performances lifeless.
Overall, Fifty Shades of Black is just not funny. This is due to a script which lacks intelligence, harmony or even an iota of originality. This film made me cringe but didn’t inspire any laughs to go with it. I wouldn’t recommend seeing it. 2/10