Fifty Shades of Black

Fifty-Shades-of-Black-posterDirector: Michael Tiddes

Writer: Marlon Wayans, Rick Alvarez

Cast: Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk, Jane Seymour, Fred Willard

Cert: 15

Running time: 92mins

Year: 2016


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What’s the story: Erotic blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey gets an African-Americanised spanking in this potty-mouthed spoof starring Marlon Wayans as kinky millionaire Christian Black. Kali Hawk plays Hannah Steale, a timid student who falls under his spell (and desk), only to discover that his sexual habits are as dodgy as his business practices. Prepare for all the whips, quips and prosthetic di…, erm, genitalia you can take in an unfettered parody that shows no mercy. Not even to Jane Seymour as Christian’s racist adoptive mum. You have been warned.

Fifty-Shades-of-Black---Kali-Hawk,-Marlon-Wayans Fifty-Shades-of-Black---Marlon-Wayans

What’s the verdict: Sometimes you just know when a comedy is going to be bad (the presence of Marlon Wayans being a fair bellwether), but there’s always the hope that it might be worth sitting through for that one decent gag.

Abandon any such hope for this travesty, a witless, charmless and utterly pointless parody of a film that’s already done a perfectly good job of making a fool of itself.

Indeed, it was a darn sight harder to keep a straight face during Sam Taylor-Wood’s serious adaptation of EL James’ notorious slap’n’tickler than it is for this scene-for-scene send-up.

The big hoot here is that Wayans’ mega-rich S&M freak Christian Black is a terrible lover. And a thief. And black, obviously.

Playing his mousy conquest we have Kali Hawk, a relative unknown who is clearly up for a bit of degradation and humiliation. Which is just as well because this will remain on her CV forever.

Together they gurn and pratfall their way through a script that sticks closely to the original without adding anything to its ludicrousness. Other than an unnecessarily mean attitude, chronic overuse of the N-word, and a handful of rubber testicles.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a modern spoof without a barrage of disposable pop culture references, with particular derision here aimed at the films of Nicholas Sparks and Cuba Gooding Jr. A riff on Whiplash comes close to hitting the mark but ends up, like everything else, overplayed.

It’s clearly no place for prudes, but the line between risqué and “…really?” is crossed when it makes light of unprotected sex, date rape, and – in the iffiest bit of judgement since the Rodney King verdict – torture by waterboarding.

The situation eventually becomes so desperate it resorts to openly attacking the film it’s trying to pastiche. Just in case you didn’t get it.

Woefully uninspired and toxically unfunny, this film is so rotten it could necrotize your soul. Horrible, just horrible.

Elliott Noble

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