Fifty Shades of Black, 2016.
Directed by Michael Tiddes.
Starring Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk, Affion Crockett, Jane Seymour, Florence Henderson, Jenny Zigrino, Fred Willard, and Mike Epps.
An inexperienced college student meets a wealthy businessman whose sexual practices put a strain on their relationship.
Normally, whenever I’m about to watch a modern-day Marlon Wayans comedy (I use that term loosely as to not insult actual comedies) I am mentally crying inside, trying to prepare myself for the next 90 minutes that will inexplicably feel as long as some epic Christopher Nolan movie. This time though, I had some hope coming in. After all, this time around it is Fifty Shades of Grey being parodied and roasted; a movie so unintentionally hilarious and plagued with both despicable and idiotic characters, it feels as if the spoof material would write itself.
The answer to that inquiry is both yes and no, as Fifty Shades of Black is certainly aware of how preposterous and dumb the material that is being sent up (or rather down in this case) is, to the point where some of the scenes being mocked could be edited into the original movie and fit right in, aside from the fact that the characters are now black. And those small moments are when Fifty Shades of Black does elevate itself from the typical garbage you would expect from Marlon Wayans (who I will once again defend as being a legitimately capable great actor when he’s not feeling lazy) to intelligent parody. It also knows how to poke fun, or rather simply point out, that the actual character of Christian Gray is nothing more than a sick freak only interested in mentally and physically abusing women, but I’ll stop there and just let you go read my actual review of Fifty Shades of Grey if you want those thoughts.
As always, Marlon Wayans is game to get a rise out of his audience regardless of how far he has to go in terms of degrading himself. Basically, that sentence means that there are quite a few visual dick jokes from multiple characters; it’s the bottom of the barrel trash humor you would expect from a comedy in this style. On another note, who is actually laughing at all of these cartoonishly graphic penis gags that seemingly inhabit every current R-rated comedy? I rarely ever laugh at one, so having three or four in the same movie is beyond overkill.
It’s also a shame that once again, Wayans is relying on the oldest black stereotypes in the book to elicit laughs. No, it’s not funny that the parents of Hannah have decided to give Christian Black a bunch of fried chicken for his meal at the culturally educational family dinner. That joke has been done to death to the point where if that is all it takes to write a successful comedy, then sign me up because I sure as shit could do this too. The only thing missing from the scene was some grape soda.
The rest of the jokes are all centered on physical slapstick comedy that make no earthly sense. There’s a scene where Christian tries spanking Hannah as punishment, but since his hands are so weak he begins using strong physical objects like wooden stools, that even when swung and shattered across her ass, faze her not one bit. I’m really not sure which is most lazy; this style of humor, penis jokes, or stereotypical racially charged quips.
Still, it’s tough to outright hate Fifty Shades of Black considering that Wayans legitimately does understand how horrendous both the source material and character he is mocking truly is. Wayans also injects his own interpretation of the character as someone essentially frustrated from being terrible at sex, along with the molestation revelation from the actual movie (except this time there’s an absolutely amazing Whiplash homage tossed in).
It’s also worth noting that it is really only the final act that truly begins scraping the bottom of the barrel for laughs (there’s an extended stripping dance sequence by Wayans that is completely superfluous), as if they were running out of promising scenes to spoof. Fifty Shades of Black rapidly misfires jokes, but the ones that land are gold and successfully put into perspective how stupid and absurd this whole phenomenon is. Honestly, the whole experience would fare better as a skit rather than a feature-length film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★