Fifty Shades of Black (2 stars)

Fifty Shades of Black

Marlon Wayans’ latest spoof is characteristically low-brow but very nearly watchable

The comic style of writer-actor Marlon Wayans has found fewer takers with each outing; Wayans abandoned the gross-out humour of the Scary Movie series for the even crasser A Haunted House films, spoofing horror tropes to minimal effect. By setting his sights on the film adaptation of EL James’ bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, Wayans finally finds a target that offers him a valid excuse for his trademark crudeness.

Sticking with remarkable fidelity to the non-twists and non-turns of the source material, Fifty Shades of Black follows naïve student Hannah (Kali Hawk) through a sex education provided by high-powered businessman Christian Black (Wayans). Black invites her to visit his ‘playroom’ (where his homies smoke weed and play on a PlayStation) and beyond that to a world of whips and bondage. Further complications arrive in the form of Black’s domineering mother Claire (Jane Seymour) and her dopey husband Gary (Fred Willard), leaving Hannah struggling to arrest her rapid descent into physical corruption.

As usual, the plot is a framework for sight gags involving bodily fluids, massive prosthetic genitals, racial slurs and knockabout comedy. With a running joke in which Hannah constantly gets her head caught in the doors of the lift in Black’s office, the bar is set pretty low, but some of the gags actually do land, including a Whiplash spoof that sees Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson enthusiastically spoofing her wholesome image.

Wayans’ frantic brand of mugging is well served by the way he slips in and out of character as the supposedly suave Black; working once again with director Michael Tiddes (the Haunted House films), Fifty Shades of Black constitutes his most cohesive and accomplished creation to date, which is to say it’s almost watchable.

General release from Fri 11 Mar.

Fifty Shades of Black

  • 2 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 31min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Michael Tiddes
  • Cast: Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk, Affion Crockett, Fred Willard
  • UK release: 11 March 2016

Millionaire Christian Black (Wayans) tries to coax naive student Hannah (Hawk) into signing a contract for kinky sexual goings-on. Wayans-scripted parody of the erotic blockbuster.