With “A Haunted House,” “A Haunted House 2,” and now “Fifty Shades of Black,” Marlon Wayans has proven that he doesn’t need any help from his brothers to make a truly awful spoof. This is probably a great source of pride for him at family gatherings. “Did you see how low the Rotten Tomatoes score was on that last one?” Marlon Wayans probably says to Damon, Shawn, and Keenen Ivory. “I did that without you.”
Working again with director Michael Tiddes and co-writer Rick Alvarez, Wayans stars in this filthy, witless parody of “Fifty Shades of Grey” — a movie no one took seriously in the first place, you’ll recall, which makes it tricky to mock. It’s even trickier when the thing you’re mocking happened a year ago. By now, unless your jokes are especially clever or insightful, most viewers will have already made them themselves. Oh, is the guy in “Fifty Shades of Grey” kind of a stalker? Yeah, we quit making jokes about that, like, 11 months ago.
Wayans’ character, Seattle billionaire Christian Black, is exactly like Christian Grey except that he’s black. There a few “black people do it like THIS” jokes, and Christian’s white adoptive mother (Jane Seymour) is openly racist (which is actually kind of funny), but it’s not otherwise a “black” movie. We’re not talking “Soul Plane” here — which, coincidentally, gets mentioned in “Fifty Shades of Black” as an example of a bad movie, even though it is much funnier than “Fifty Shades of Black.”
Hannah Steale (a game Kali Hawk) is the naive college student who falls under Christian’s spell, much to the dismay of her desperate platonic friend, Ron (Mike Epps). She has a white, slutty roommate (Jenny Zigrino) who acts black and hooks up with Christian’s brother, Eli (Affion Crockett), who has a comically oversized penis. There’s a lot of wang talk in the movie. There are also a lot of obvious jokes about men and sex — they finish too quickly, they immediately fall asleep, etc. — and numerous references to Christian’s anti-falling-in-love policy. Not “jokes,” mind you, just references.
Following the time-honored tradition of beloved TV matriarchs playing against type in spoof movies (remember Barbara Billingsley speaking jive in “Airplane!”?), Florence Henderson shows up here in a flashback to Christian’s youth, when he was Mrs. Robinson’d by his mother’s friend. Though it is unsettling and perhaps disappointing to see Mrs. Brady behave so obscenely, I laughed at the scene’s core concept, which compares the dominant/submissive relationship in “Fifty Shades” to the one in “Whiplash” (tempo!).
And that’s about it, laughs-wise. This isn’t the worst spoof I’ve seen, but it belongs in the same garbage pile as most of the rest of them. If you pay to see it, you’re encouraging Marlon Wayans to keep making them without incentivizing him to improve. You should really stop and think about that. How will he learn if we keep rewarding him for bad behavior?
D (1 hr., 32 min.; )