wed 14/04/2021

Fifty Shades of Black | reviews, news & interviews

Fifty Shades of Black

Fifty Shades of Black

A crass, third-rate spoof of 'Fifty Shades of Grey', even less funny than the original

Tired: Kali Hawk and Marlon Wayans in 'Fifty Shades of Black'

In case anyone hasn’t guessed from the flauntingly obvious title, Fifty Shades of Black is a parody of 2012’s favourite piece of trash lit: EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which was adapted for film by director Sam Taylor-Johnson in time to underwhelm audiences on Valentine’s Day 2015.

In case anyone hasn’t guessed from the flauntingly obvious title, Fifty Shades of Black is a parody of 2012’s favourite piece of trash lit: EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which was adapted for film by director Sam Taylor-Johnson in time to underwhelm audiences on Valentine’s Day 2015. Created by some of the team behind the A Haunted House series, including writers Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez, and director Mike Tiddes, Fifty Shades of Black sets out to spoof the already ridiculed piece of fiction, itself based on Stephenie Meyer’s popular but poorly acclaimed novel-cum-film series, the Twilight Saga.

It’s therefore unsurprising that this latest addition to the line does little more than disappoint, dragging us once more through a tired story, this time with added slapstick, racist jokes and less sexual tension than its predecessors. Following the movements of Fifty Shades of Grey scene by scene, Hannah Steele (Kali Hawk) agrees to interview the successful business entrepreneur Christian Black (Wayans) on behalf of her sofa-ridden college flatmate Kateesha (Jenny Zegrino). Hannah, who is shy and reserved, becomes smitten with this mysterious womaniser, and is thrilled when he makes a “chance” appearance at the hardware store she works in following her interview with him.

The familiar photo shoot, coffee date and drunken phone call ensue, culminating in Hannah finding herself in Christian’s flashy, multimillion-dollar pad, faced with a contract to sign if she wishes to continue sexual relations with him. The contract states she must agree to partake in various forms of hardcore S&M in his Red Room, where she is to play the part of the submissive to his dominant. The difference from the original is that this Christian, unlike his counterpart in EL James’s fantasy, is incompetent in bed and raunchy moments have been swapped for clumsy fumbles; in place of eagerly anticipated glimpses of nudity are comically sized faux genitalia.

The wafer-thin humour is bulked out by excessively extended moments of physical comedy; Hannah’s head gets jammed between lift doors more than once. Worse are the frequent racist gags: Christian’s mother (Jane Seymour) distrusts him with her purse because he’s black; Hannah is tasered while Christian weakly shouts “black lives matter”. S&M is even swapped for waterboarding as Christian interrogates Hannah on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

It's not entirely bad. The few gems among all the cheap laughs include Christian’s claim that “real torture” is reading James’s novels. And despite the shoddy script and plot, Wayans, Hawk and the supporting cast throw themselves wholeheartedly into their roles. Wayans unlocks the humour in Christian's possessiveness while suggesting seductive poise in rare moments of seriousness. Hawk is gorgeous and brings bountiful energy to the role of Hannah, putting us at ease in those awkward Red Room scenes. Zegrino shines in her feature film debut as Kateesha, a kind of soul sister for Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect.

Ultimately, however, Fifty Shades of Black is crude and uninspired – the latest (and hopefully last) in a literary and cinematographic bloodline which should be sterilised hereafter.

Unlike his counterpart in EL James’s fantasy, Christian is incompetent in bed and raunchy moments have been swapped for clumsy fumbles

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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