You know what you’re getting into when you watch a Fifty Shades of Grey spoof starring Marlon Wayans and made by the creative minds behind the A Haunted House “franchise”; there are no points awarded for calling it out as a stinker, because the waft can be smelt from a thousand miles downwind.
Naive young college student Hannah Steele (Kali Hawk) meets wealthy businessman Christian Black (Marlon Wayans), whose unconventional sexual tastes put a potential relationship in turmoil. Yes, you know all this…
If you’ve seen any of Wayans’ recent self-styled comedies, you’ll know what to expect; crude, witless humour, ham-fisted pop-culture references, and relentless gags sending up the stereotypical notions of “blackness”. Though the sheer scattershot approach does generate perhaps one decent laugh every 10 or 15 minutes, on the whole it’s just low-effort, lazy and picking on a target that’s all too easy.
It’s a shame, because though there’s increasingly mounting evidence to the contrary with each passing release, Wayans is a solid comic performer who completely hurls himself into every zany role, no matter how terrible they in fact might be. His energy is clearly worthy of being spent on more interesting projects, and it’s a shame he instead hunkers down in these cheap, easy cash-grabs rather than trying to find another Scary Movie or, dare I say, demonstrate his dramatic chops again as he did so brilliantly in Requiem for a Dream.
He’s not the only one cruelly undeserved here; Hawk is a likable presence and clearly capable of more, while older audiences might visibly cringe at seeing the lovely Jane Seymour debasing herself as Black’s adoptive mother, though in her defense, she at least gives herself over completely to the racist old white woman caricature.
It’s more of the same we’ve all come to expect from the Wayans stable; it has occasional promise but for the most part is content to grab the low-hanging fruit every time. Avoid.
Fifty Shades of Black is in US cinemas now and UK cinemas March 11th