“Fifty Shades of Black”

LOUISA:   2 STARS    MATT:   1.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

“Fifty Shades of Black” is not quite a parody and not quite a spoof. How can you successfully make fun of a pop culture phenomenon that in itself is already one big joke? This is a nearly scene-by-scene recap of the movie version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” It’s like a group of giggling 16 year old boys sat in a room, watched the original movie and came up with their own lame gags. Sadly, most of the antics and wisecracks are borderline dreadful.

I’m not saying there’s nothing to like here. There’s the always charming Marlon Wayans and a fun homage performance from Kali Hawk. There are more than a few surprisingly original, very funny jokes that made me laugh out loud. Jane Seymour, as Christian’s clueless stepmother, delivers some of the best material in the movie. The funniest jokes are the ones that poke fun at racism and the s&m / sexism that bubbles over in the original story. At least they weren’t lazy and tried to write good jokes. But none of these highlights can save the mean-spirited, clunky attempts at humor.

This movie isn’t nearly as bad as you think it would be, but save your money and wait to rent it on dvd.

MATT SAYS:

Spoof movies usually suck. And not just a little. A lot. The worst are those awful Seltzer / Friedberg reference movie collaborations, like “Disaster Movie” and “Meet the Spartans.” The Wayans brothers, however, consistently make better parody movies than pretty much everyone else. Not that they’re great (they usually aren’t), but the writing is pretty much always better than your average spoof. “Fifty Shades of Black” is no exception.

Not that “Fifty Shades of Black” is a good movie, exactly… it isn’t. But it is watchable, which is saying something for a movie like this one. There are some good jokes here, and most of them are not completely lazy. Some actual thought went into writing the script.

The problem with any parody is that it helps when the film being spoofed was good in the first place. This is particularly true where, as with “Fifty Shades of Black,” the storyline pretty much follows the original. If the original story wasn’t that interesting, the spoof usually won’t be, either. It’s hard to keep an audience’s attention when the story itself is dull.

The filmmakers did the most they could with boring source material, and managed to squeeze some pretty good laughs out of it. That’s still not enough, however, to make the movie one to recommend.

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