Fifty Shades of Black – Review

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As comedic performer Marlon Wayans continues to champion the spoof sub-genre, there is one question that lingers: why? Scary Movie worked well as it was ridiculing an entire genre, but the actor’s latest movie, Fifty Shades of Black (no prizes for guessing what film is parodied here) mocks just one picture, and a rather unique one at that. So it’s fair to assume jokes get pretty stale in this Michael Tiddes’ production, and pretty damn fast at that.

Wayans takes on the role that had belonged to Jamie Dornan, of the affluent, sexual deviant Christian – who crosses paths with the endearingly unpretentious Hannah Steele (Kali Hawk) who is stepping in for her roommate Kateesha (Jenny Zigrino) and interviewing the bachelor. The pair hit it off right away, and after a steady dose of stalking, Christian lures the unsuspecting virgin into his red room, where he plans on fulfilling his unique sexual desires.

It has barely been a year since we witnessed Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey, as she brought the immensely popular E.L. James novel/phenomenon to the big screen. Lauded and accused in equal measure for her somewhat earnest and stony-faced approach to the playful prose, Wayans, alongside fellow scriptwriter Rick Alvarez, have sought in filling in the gaps and adding humour to an otherwise dour endeavour. There are a handful of truly hilarious jokes littered around this production, but they are few and far between, and mark what are merely a small percentage of hits, given we’re dealing with a film whereby every other line attempts to be witty and ridiculous. Much of this is down to the incompatible balance between the pointed, social satire and the more illusory, irreverent moments, as the writers struggle to have the conflicting tones co-exist with one another successfully.

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The film is also far too long, asking so much of this singular concept, without the scope in truly triumphing as a feature length movie. Perhaps a short movie would have been more watchable, as the jokes run brutally thin as we approach the latter stages. There are still more productions to come out of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, with Fifty Shades Darker steadily approaching, so let’s just hope this doesn’t spell the arrival of more spoofs, too.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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