No matter how cosmically God-awful you think Fifty Shades of Black probably is, I assure you it’s even worse than that. How bad is it? Well, it made Kung Fu Panda 3 look like Citizen Kane. Hell, it made me deeply appreciate the 11 days I spent with a frozen driveway, leaving me to while away my spare time watching low-grade horror movies on Netflix. (If nothing else, that experience proved that it’s possible to sit through both The Pact and The Pact II and still have no clue what the title means. That may have no scientific value, but it does make for a puzzlement.) I sat through — squirmed through is nearer to the truth — this latest offering from Marlon Wayans and Michael Tiddes, becoming increasingly certain I had never seen anything quite this bad. I am still not sure that that isn’t true. It is assuredly among the cinematic low points in a life pretty much spent at the movies. One may consider that an accomplishment.
The audience for the 1:10 p.m. show at The Carolina consisted of my hapless wife (she was collateral damage), four paying customers and me. For 90 dismal minutes, no one laughed at a single so-called joke. Usually, I can at least count on some wayward entertainment from being mystified by what other people find funny. Not so here. The only sound heard was the inane prattling coming from the screen as each new gag flopped about like a landed fish.
Now, it might seem that the movie Fifty Shades of Grey — and its “literary” source — would be low-hanging fruit for parody. But this is not the case, at least not here. This is part of the modern realm of what passes for parody. It seems that it is no longer necessary to actually spoof the source material. No, you merely have to replicate it, and the audience is supposed to laugh because they recognize it. Perhaps this is meant to make the viewer feel savvy and “with it.” I don’t know. How hip are you simply because you recognize a reference to another lousy movie? The truth is there are more honest (if totally unintentional) laughs in Fifty Shades of Grey than are found in this. The “dramatic” outburst of “I’m fifty shades of fucked up!” is a lot funnier than its “comedic” counterpoint (“I’m fifty-one shades of fucked up!”) here.
This is a movie so thoroughly hopeless that it can’t even manage to raise a snicker out of a sequence where Florence Henderson plays the older woman who initiated the young Marlon Wayans into the world of S&M. How is this possible? I have no idea, but it’s a gift Mr. Wayans possesses — in abundance. Is there a bright spot in any of this? Possibly. It appears that my audience was not unique and that this latest Wayans assault on the lowest common denominator has tanked at the box office. This probably won’t prevent him from trying again, but it might discourage his backers a little. Rated R for strong crude sexual content, including some graphic nudity, and for language throughout.