“This is for the little white girl in Fifty Shades of Grey!”
“She didn’t have to be naked the whole movie! That shit was gratuitous!”
Couldn’t have expressed it better myself.
Fifty Shades of Black is a spazzy spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey. Welcome back the Wayans family for 2016, because they’re ready to send up E.L. James. Here’s a comedy that screams, stumbles, and startles, all in the name of working over a really long internet fan comment widely mistaken for a novel.
The outline pretty much follows the original film to the letter. Marlon Wayans, the most irascible of al Wayans, is Christian Black. He’s an enigmatic entrepreneur, who as he puts it made his money like any young black man: selling drugs. Black is an utter weirdo, a horned-up creature with sharp facial features and a tendency to euphemize literally anything that could be perceived as penile. He jams keys in and out and in then out and back in and out and on and on. He sucks on pieces of toast, all phallic and slobbering like an aroused St. Bernard. He flops his gigantic rubber blue balls to illustrate his desires. The joke is that Black’s a crazed hornball and a predator, get it? Black’s chasing after Hannah Steale (the very patient Kali Hawk), the frumpy, split-end sporting virgin of his sudden cravings, and he will stop at nothing to get her to sign a sex contract for his sex cauldron playtime. Wait, wasn’t this already a howl last year? Whereas Fifty Shades of Grey elicited nervous laughter through discomfort, Fifty Shades of Black ploughs away looking for the cheapest sex jokes it can find. Sometimes, it even scores. But not nearly often enough.
Marlon, who also co-wrote the film, uses the James adaptation as a platform for roughly a couple hundred adolescent gags. Why joke-goof on a BDSM camp classic (it is, really), when there are bigger fish to fry in the maelstrom of recent popular films? Because Grey chases the easiest humor. Sex funnies. For starters, Black makes no bones about the less savory elements of Grey’s popularity and problems. Wayans challenges James’ prose by reading her book as a form of BDSM torture. Steale, as previously mentioned, questions the less-than-equitable nudityof last year’s film. The Black character even declares his stalker-dom and admits that he has pending lawsuits as a result. The game here is to shout very literally about what made Grey so tawdry and, uh, stupid.
Fifty Shades of Black aims low (often at and around the crotch), and often fumbles around, missing its G-spot. That’s the gag-spot, perverts.
There are fake weiners, pratfalls, comparing ashen skin to that of E.T.’s when he was dead in a river. Wayans is even willing to take cheap but proud shots at Trump, Cosby, and the business of BDSM. Sometimes a great a joke is a simple and unexpected one, like Steale’s looks cracking a mirror, or names in a phone book like, “Christian Red, Christian Grey, Christian Black, Christian Black-As-Hell.” There’s also a lot of aggressive humping, lines about women being “bitches” or “skanks,” and even a forced morning after pill played for comedy. This, alas, is the film’s majority approach. The extended joke that Christian Grey was a creep is never lost, but it loses its stamina and turns routine fast. Marlon Wayans is clearly getting off on the gags, but the lazy, hard humor, and elastic joke-making eventually has a numbing effect.
One quick, dumb, and truly honest question: do prosthetics count as nudity? Fifty Shades of Black is certainly a heavy comic R. Language, graphic sexual humor, Florence Henderson bemoaning penis sizes. But do prosthetic genitals really qualify as “graphic nudity” as the rating acknowledges? Google defines nudity as the state of being naked, and the presence of genitalia seems to suggest the “graphic” part, but is Marlon Wayans gluing astro turf over a rubber dongus actually nudity? It’s a question of depiction vs. illustration, perhaps, and what constitutes “the nude.” The audience knows Wayans’ business is not the real thing, and that’s part of the joke. Still can’t have a real dick in a movie, though. God forbid.