Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Fifty Shades Of Black

Directed by: Michael Tiddes

Produced by: Marlon Wayans
Rick Alvarez

Screenplay by: Marlon Wayans
Rick Alvarez

Starring: Marlon Wayans
Kali Hawk
Affion Crockett
Jane Seymour
Andrew Bachelor
Florence Henderson
Jenny Zigrino
Fred Willard
Mike Epps

Music by: Jim Dooley

Cinematography by: David Ortkiese

Editing by: Lawrence Jordan

Studio(s): IM Global
Baby Way Productions

Distributed by: Open Road Films

Release date(s): January 29, 2016 (United States)
March 11, 2016 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 92 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $5 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $22, 227, 514

Just as a quick preface of sorts, I'll just let you know that the size of my reviews in terms of x-number of words will vary now, depending on how much I feel needs to be said on a given film. I just think it would be good to mix up my old tried and tested format, make it more malleable to cater towards a fluid interpretation of a movie.

Today's movie up for review is Fifty Shades Of Black, a parody of the erotic literary/cinematic phenomenon Fifty Shades Of Grey (which, for sake of argument I have nothing to say about because I have neither read the book or seen the film) and the latest film developed by Marlon Wayans, who writes, stars and produces. It's directed by A Haunted House helmer Michael Tiddes (I can't unsee 'titties' when I look at that name), with Kali Hawk as Hannah Steale, a college student who considers herself unattractive, goes to interview the wealthy entrepreneur Christian Black (played by Wayans) for her roommate's school newspaper, and what do you know, she digs him, he digs her, only he's hiding a dark secret. Let's get down with it, shall we?

Now, just to clear off a couple of things, I thought Kali Hawk was decent in the lead role. Not good by any stretch, considering it's a nothing character and there's only so much an actor can do with such poor material, but she's charming, relatable and engaging. Perhaps in the future there are better things out there for her. Secondly, at ninety-two minutes it does us a small mercy of not dragging things out too long. Finally, I do have to admit that I did laugh once. Something in the film did make me laugh once, it's just a shame I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

And that's it. Yep. That's it. I've seen a lot of bad movies over the years, and while it may not be on the lower side of grot, it is still a rubbish movie. As I mentioned, Kali Hawk had a nothing character, and the same can be said for just about everyone. At most, they are two-dimension stock cardboard cutouts, tired and redundant cliches. Oh, look, there's the man-hating woman who always moans about "men...", etc, etc. As such, not a single one of the actors are able to perform and deliver any work of significance. Notwithstanding that, the gags are horrible and cringeworthy. Interspersed between 'topical' pop-culture references that allude to the likes of Kim Kardashian's 'Break The Internet' photoshoot (what has the world come to when people like that are considered part of cultural landscape?), we have dialogue that highlights the forced humour. I'm a fan of the old ZAZ-films such as Airplane! and The Naked Gun that are influences on the likes of this, but the fact is is that you don't have to try a shove a gag into every single line, especially when they aren't up to scratch and stick in your ears like a screwdriver being slowly twisted in the orifice. As I write, I'm listening to a mix of Ian Dury's work, a man who a trailblazing wordsmith who was able to make the most magnificent poetry out of outrageousness and absurdity. You've got Dury, and then drek like this film, and Fifty Shades Of Black doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence. Even the attempts at gross-out/absurdist humour that act almost as spots, the big moments they want to be as belly-busters fail to do their job, drawing out past the point of welcome. It's like somebody is whispering in my ear "you know it's funny, right? This is the part you're meant to laugh at. C'mon, buddy, do it. Just laugh. Laugh, you grumpy old sod." Nope. Perhaps the worst thing about the film is that while trying to do an absurd, gross-out parody film, they're also attempting to make a legitimate statement on the recent debate of lack of proportionate racial-representation in major Hollywood films. So, in case you didn't get it, the film's called Fifty Shades Of Black, the main character is Christian Black, he's played by a black actor, and runs a business called Black Enterprises, and so there's all manner of these sort of references smattered throughout the film in visual/sight gags and the dialogue. So, that's is where we've got to, eh? In the late-eighties, you had African-American hip-hop groups like N.W.A. and Public Enemy stirring the pot and challenging through their music the racial tension prevalent at the time, and young filmmakers were quick to follow. Spike Lee, John Singleton and The Hughes Brothers respectively made iconic 'hood' films Do The Right Thing, Boyz N The Hood and Menace II Society, socially relevant dramas which addressed racism directly and what it meant to be young and black during that time in the United States. Now, we've got bollocks like this, which while being well-meaning, maybe, loses any relevance or pertinence to the message that it's trying to send through the dreadful writing and poor gags. It's not even a technically competent film. From a design standpoint, the film looks rather ugly, which the DP does nothing to attempt to work around, the music interjects itself on the viewer way too much, and it is full of that Editing 101 nonsense that sees us cutting back and forth between the characters in the middle of the dialogue, so as to reflect and maintain the pace of the snappy dialogue, which by this stage it is doubtless that we find fucking riveting.

I call bullshit. I have nothing else to say about this film. Yep. Seriously. I just want to be done with this one and get it out of my system. Oh, look, there it is. It's going, going, going... gone.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 1.2/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Flying (Bryan)

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