Fifty Shades of Black

Fifty shades of blech.
Movie Review #1,073


Distributed by Open Road Films. Comedy. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes. Rated R for strong crude sexual content including some graphic nudity, and for language throughout. Released January 29, 2016. Directed by Michael Tiddes. Produced by Rick Alvarez and Marlon Wayans.  Written by Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez. Starring Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk, Fred Willard, Affion Crockett, and Jane Seymour.

“Just because you touch a penis doesn’t mean you’re gay. Especially if it’s for money for crack.” – Marlon Wayans in “Fifty Shades of Black”

What a lazy, lazy movie. What Gus van Sant’s 1998 “Psycho” redo is for remakes, “Fifty Shades of Black” is for parodies. It’s a “shot-for-shot spoof,” if you will. Marlon Wayans’s script doesn’t send up “Fifty Shades of Grey” as a single work, and that’s where it first fails. “Black” plays out as if Wayans had the original “Grey” script laid out on the table right beside his computer as he typed up the script. In the end, any sense of a plot seems to have been forsaken in the name of god-only-knows-what. Almost every scene in “Black” is way overlong, due to the amount of tangential crap we’re given: dumb jokes about sex (and scenes depicting it in the utmost ridiculous fashion), drugs, race, pop culture, and combinations of any of the above.

At its least embarrassing, the film exhibits a man using a condom that expired in the 1980s, and forced pop culture references like “Are you Donald-Trump-running-for-President drunk or Donald-Trump-hates-Mexicans drunk?”. But even those more tolerable moments are still major eye-rollers, and they come far and few. At its absolute most embarrassing, “Fifty Shades of Black” exhibits a hardware store employee rubbing a pencil around in her mouth loudly and orgasmically. This scene lasts a full minute, and once it’s over, we feel like we’ve been violated. The gravest fact to face at the end of this scene is that we still have an hour of the film to endure.

If you’ve seen “Scary Movie”, then you’re probably aware of Marlon Wayans’s capacity to be both very stupid and very funny. But that was 16 years ago, and his humor seems to have virtually faded. Wayans’s performance as Christian Black in “Fifty Shades of Black” is perhaps the most poorly executed and thoroughly unconvincing attempt at character comedy since Eddie Murphy had to keep his mouth shut in “A Thousand Words”. Wayans leads us to believe that his co-star, Kali Hawk, who offers absolutely nothing to her performance as Hannah Steele, actually has talent. But let’s be honest: these two could have been the finest actors in Hollywood (as unrealistic a scenario as that is), and “Black” would still suck. The movie was doomed from the very beginning. A script is a film in its embryo stage, and what we have here is a severely deformed embryo. When the film is a catastrophe that early on, it’s bound to be a catastrophe once it’s finished. I assume that Wayans is fairly pro-life, because it would have been in his best interest to abort “Fifty Shades of Black” while it was still an embryo.


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