Can a movie that promises nearly 20 minutes of boobs really be the worst movie of the year? Yes. Yes it can.
If you asked the above question, then it’s obvious you are one of the few people that haven’t already made their way to the theater (either by choice or dragged) to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe you live in Boston or something. Either way, you’re blissfully ignorant as to just how uninteresting softcore pornography could actually be. You’d also be unaware just how creepy this whole damn story is and you’re probably better for it.
A little backstory: my fiancée has never read the books and obviously, neither have I. Morbid curiosity got the better of both of us, so we decided to go and see what all the fuss was about. It was somewhere between the ninth lip-bite or the time Christian Grey breaks into Anastasia Steele’s (ugh, these goddamn names) apartment to “surprise” her with champagne that we both began to exchange sarcastic eye rolls and cynical scoffs at the terrible dialogue, wooden acting, and a sequence events that usually ends with a restraining order if not a dismemberment.
Fifty Shades of Grey is 80% of a horror movie. Christian Grey is essentially Patrick Bateman if Patrick Bateman was too uninteresting to actually go through with murders and executions (you know, if that actually happened in American Psycho). But alas, Christian Grey is a glorified suit hanger, but he’s “fifty shades of fucked-up” (ugh, this goddamn dialogue) because that’s what the script says he is. And when he can do things like fly you over Seattle in a helicopter or wake you up in the middle of the night by playing melancholy classical music on his enormous grand piano, you tend to overlook the obvious signs of a sociopath just long enough to spread your legs for a new pair of shoes, at least. He’s rich. How demented can he be, right? It’s not like a rich guy has ever done anything super creepy to a woman before. I’m sure we wouldn’t forget about it, anyway. Christian Grey actually doesn’t murder Anastasia in this film (spoiler alert!), but there are two more books. It’s entirely possible.
In case you didn’t know, Fifty Shades of Grey started off as Twilight erotic fan fiction entitled Master of the Universe. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with He-Man, but it was just Edward and Bella banging in high-rise apartments and offices. You can still see some residue from its Twilight origins, including Christian proclaiming that Anastasia had to stay away from him and other bullshit conflict. But she actually should stay away from him, and she attempts to, but when you’re super rich, stalking is super easy. Even when you’re stalking victim high-tails it to Savannah to visit her mom, it’s just so simple to show up unannounced and then take her on your super awesome glider. Even though she probably could’ve used more quality time with her mom. But fuck family, amiright?
I guess the appeal of this story is how women can put themselves in place of Anastasia Steele. She’s a senior in college, virgin, unsure of herself, even though she’s surrounded by moderately attractive guys that are totally all about hitting that. So, of course, when owner of generic business company #7 and 25-year old billionaire (ugh, these goddamn character descriptions) takes a liking to her, she falls head over heels in orgasming in her skinny jeans every time he touches her face. For a guy, the equivalent fantasy would be being a pizza delivery guy that delivers to a house full of sorority girls that have no place to hold cash in their nighties, so they just take his pants off instead. Tomato, tomato.
There’s also some BDSM play here, but in the bare minimum sense. It’s like EL James looked on Wikipedia for about five minutes to figure out how little of the practice she had to put into her story in order for it to feel the slightest bit authentic. It’s similar in the way that she obviously has no idea what goes into running a telecommunications business other than it involves an office and business meetings. Her lack of knowledge has already pissed off communities that actually practice the fetish, but when reached for comment, a ball gag muffled the representative’s words. But more important than any type of kinky play, there’s plenty of talk about contracts. Lots and lots of talks about contracts. So much contract negotiations, while admittedly it allows for the most humorous scene, but who doesn’t giggle when “anal fisting” is said. Low hanging fruit if you ask me.
In terms of cast, it’s really all about the two leads, and Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey as about as dull as a potential serial killer could possibly be. That’s really all I can say; he’s completely uninteresting in a generically handsome sort of way. I will say that he blinks very little, similar to the way Anthony Hopkins decided to play Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and Haley Joel Osment played a robot in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. So Christian Grey is either going to eat Anastasia or he’s a robot.
Now I will say that if I had to find a lone bright spot, it would be a convincing performance by Dakota Johnson. Don’t get me wrong: the leads have absolutely no chemistry between each other, but if this were a story about an abusive relationship, she convincingly portrays someone that fears for her safety. Maybe I’m just showing some favoritism because I liked her in the short-lived TV series Ben and Kate, but she at least seems like she deserves better. Mr. Dornan, not so much.
Fifty Shades of Grey manages to hit a homerun, if a homerun means you alienate your core audience and disappoint basically everyone on all fronts. At least you get to seem some boobs.
And at least it isn’t Boyhood.