Fifty Shades of Black

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I was given the opportunity to interview Marlon Wayans when he came to town to promote A Haunted House 2. I hadn’t seen the movie though, and passed on the interview. A week later I saw it, and couldn’t stop laughing at how hilariously he spoofed horror films.

I was a bit disappointed to see they weren’t screening this movie for critics, but because I had such a fun time at A Haunted House 2, I figured Wayans deserved my money for this. Hey…I’m a movie critic that gets to see everything for free. If filmmakers can entertain me, I don’t mind paying to see their movies at the theatre.

The first mistake was that my girlfriend had never seen Fifty Shades of Grey. Don’t get me wrong, she’s lucky she didn’t see it. It was awful. So was the book (which is why one great scene has Wayans torturing her girlfriend by reading itl to her). Yet since this movie skewered nearly every scene in that movie, it’s hard to appreciate some of the things that were happening. Although I have to think you can still appreciate a man bringing a woman breakfast in bed, licking the piece of toast all over and making her eat it, as a fun way to show his dominance. I could’ve done without the bellybutton licking, though (you’ll have to see it to understand why).

The first 15 minutes of this movie was so bad, we looked at each other wondering if we should just consider this a $25 loss and leave. The attempts at humor were things like Hannah (Kali Hawk) having her face caught in elevator doors; Wayans stealing ties and an Audi, and a crass roommate named Kateesha (Jenny Zigrino). She said disgusting things that weren’t the least bit funny.

Well, I’m glad we didn’t leave, because things started to get funny. Even set-ups that you may have seen before (a woman with hairy, unsexy legs…a guy that can’t last that long), they did interesting things with those premises.

There’s a spanking scene that is humorous simply because of the expressions Wayans makes as he tries unsuccessfully to inflict pain on Hannah. Another time, he’s searching for just the right whip. As he walks by them, each is labeled: “12 Years a Slave” “Glory” “Django Unchained,” etc.

There were at least three times I had belly laughs. One of them is when Wayans gets this crazed look on his face as he throws a towel over Hannah’s face. He starts waterboarding her and screaming, “Where’s bin Laden?!”

Another involves Florence Henderson (Mrs. Brady). It was decades ago when she slept with a drunk clown (Bobcat Goldthwait) in the underrated Shakes the Clown. In this, what she does with Wayans in a riff on Fifty Shades and Whiplash…might be the funniest thing I’ve seen on screen in months (and I see four movies a week).

And when they went to spoof Magic Mike, I thought the jokes would be predictable. Some of them were, including the punchline. Yet when you see his prosthetic penis doing its own dance — the entire theatre laughed.

There were a few references the younger generation isn’t going to get (including the movie poster — a parody the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only).

There was also a bizarre scene that involved various locksmiths trying to get the locks off Hannah’s wrists. I won’t ruin the gag, but it’s a blast.

Now, the problems with the movie. Black’s mother Claire (Jane Seymour) is racist and not that funny (aside from her “standing her ground” while tazing Hannah).

Fred Willard, a welcome sight in any comedy, doesn’t have any good lines. That might be a first for him on screen. Even the few bad Christopher Guest movies, he can muster a smile out of you with something he says.

The scene with Mike Epps was bizarre.

When it was all said and done, I wished it was a better parody. For every time I laughed, there were at least 10 gags (no pun intended) that fell flat. One example of that would be the sex scene in the elevator. It went on and on, and just as I was hoping the scene would end, Wayans grabs a man in a tie, while still kissing and groping Hannah, stating “You stand here and watch!” How can you not laugh when something like that goes down?

I wasn’t disappointed I spent the money to see it, but I can’t say it’s a good comedy. It was clever a handful of times, but when a movie is as ridiculously bad as Fifty Shades of Grey — we could’ve gotten a funnier film. Perhaps he should’ve employed a few of his brothers to add some material.

Wayans also gets credit for throwing a dig at Bill Cosby. Bravo!

This gets 2 stars out of 5.