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A certified bro’s perspective on Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

February 20, 2015

WARNING:  If you liked this movie or the book, you will probably be offended by this review.  There, I said it.

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Don’t be curious.  The movie isn’t worth it.

MY CALL:  Not sexy, not limit-testing, not hot’n’steamy.  This was like a “hard PG-13” film for young adults.  MORE FROM “a certified bro”:  Try some mommy issues, poor communication and dangerously unrecommended travel in the spirit of girly independence with Blue Crush 2 (2011).  Want more?  Try Beautiful Creatures (2013) in which Carrie meets Titanic in the form of an angsty supernatural high school love story.  There’s just something about teenagers talking about destiny that makes me angry.

DISCLAIMER FROM A CERTIFIED BRO:  Not sure how the introverted teenage girl target audience felt about this.  But I’m a 34 year old certified bro and a Jersey Italian and this film made me roll my eyes so much I was getting dizzy.  I live for bench pressing, Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, bicep tattoos and high-fiving alcohol-based accomplishments.  Maybe if you grew up on Hannah Montana, this film could be for you.  Me?  I happened not to read the book.  I think I was busy hocking loogies, thinking up new dick jokes or doing push-ups or something.

It was a day like any other when my loving girlfriend suggested we go see Fifty Shades of Grey on Valentine’s Day weekend.  In the spirit of being a good boyfriend looking to reap the benefits of seeing a sexy movie with her I, of course, succumbed to this otherwise seemingly reasonable request.  I mean, it’s a movie about sex and bondage and dominants and submissives; there’s nudity and sex and dirty talk.  This should be a blast even if I don’t care about the romantic angle, right?  WRONG!

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Add a few melodramatic tears and this image pretty much sums up the movie. BTW, I didn’t mach-up this image, I think it came from Perez Hilton’s website.

Not since some lovesick, glittery, bloodsucking Edward loaded with teen angst and in need of some bored looking Kristin Stewart to fill the void in his eternal life have I been so unmoved by two young adults’ yearning to be together.  Five movies that Twilight franchise lasted…FIVE!  Is it just me, or is that a lot of screen time to devote to a group of anemic high schoolers who haven’t showered the glitter off since their last trip to the champagne room?  Well, thankfully the Twilight Saga (2008-2012) has come to an end.  But just when I thought I was done with sparkly vampires and it was safe to let women pick the movies again, this shit happens!  And guess what, bros?  This is the first of what will result in no fewer than three theatrical releases in the saga of Grey.

I kept hearing about the intense chemistry and steaminess of this story.  If that’s the case then this was the chemistry of slowly solidifying water into ice and then using that to sooth the hemorrhoid-plagued sphincter of an elderly man in a steamy sauna. If you thought there was chemistry then you’ve probably not seen enough movies to recognize a stale script and if you thought the sex scenes were “steamy” then I’m guessing you have little basis for comparison other than the pages of this book.  So sorry if you’re offended, but this isn’t exactly A Certified Feminist Young Adult Novelist’s Perspective…it’s A Certified Bro’s, and I don’t hold hands and say prayers and supportive crap about keeping your clothes on at abstinence club meetings.

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Oh “GASP”, they’re disrobing and taking a well lit bath together in his immaculate marble empire.  Someone alert Perez Hilton of this SCANDALOUS scene!  What bondage act will he conduct upon her swooned body?  A sponge bath, folks.  A tender, loving sponge bath.  However did they slip this raunchy scene under the MPAA’s nose.

For those of you trapped in the northeast blizzards with record snowfall who are worrying about just how you’re going to go see Grey find love in the form of his “one and only” kneeling in the corner like a whipped dog…please get a hold of yourself and be less desperate. When you’re snowed into your house, the electricity is out, you’ve rendered your dog’s fur to fend off hypothermia and you’re just a few perishable sundries away from softening Ramen noodles in your toilet bowl for survival…when you’re so desperate you’d eat “toilet Ramen”…just understand that this is how desperately I wanted to escape my seat in that movie theater.

The dialogue in this train wreck of a film was so grossly over-exposed and mind-numbingly dumbed down it’s as if the director and screenwriter were following a “no student left behind” program.  Things are so over-explained that they feel staged and unrealistic.  There’s a scene where Anastasia (our female lead character) is interviewing Grey (the dominant, metrosexual anti-bro) and she asks about his hobbies outside of work.  In response, as if Mike “The Situation” had just dropped a rufy in her buttery nipple shot, he answers “I like to test physical limits” while staring into her eyes like some frat boy acquaintance rapist about to get ambushed by the “To Catch a Predator” guys.

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“Do you like to test physical limits, Anastasia?  No?  Okay…well do you like tequila and Vegas Bombs?”

Later she jokingly calls him a control freak.  To which he unjokingly replies as he gazes at her like a lion to a limping gazelle in the African Savannah: “I exercise control in all things.”  Of course, this meant-to-be intense line was followed up by tender kisses.  BARF!

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I went in expecting something fun and walked out having endured an utter cinematic failure.  The romantic comedy (slash sex thriller) Exit to Eden (1994) had better nudity, BDSM attire, toys and even better dirty talk than Grey!

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“How can I fulfill your fantasy?” –slave
“Go paint my house.”  –Rosie

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Considering that Exit to Eden (1994) starred Rosie O’Donnell and Dan Aykroyd, I’m gonna’ go ahead and say that’s pretty damning for Grey.

But then it occurred to me.  The dialogue, as inanely unrealistic as it is, fits perfectly to what I have realized to be the target demographic for this film: young adults.  And I’m stressing the word young here because the ins and outs of BDSM are explained as one would to a child…as if Dora the Explorer had stumbled across a “flogger” and a ballgag and then engaged in an educational repartee with stubby infant Grey.  It all seemed very UNcomplex, UNintense, UNnaughty, and one-dimensional; more like Three Shades of Grey.  The other Forty-Seven Shades, and many more in your 264 count Crayola pack, can be found in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2013) films.  Now THAT film tested limits.  Whereas Grey’s almost saccharinely sensitive sex scenes were about as intense as Leo DiCaprio’s lovemaking in Romeo & Juliet (1996), Nymphomaniac truly tested limits.

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A line in the theme song “Love Me Like You Do” includes a common line “what are you waiting foooooor….?”  I was thinking this every time Grey was talking about his dungeon–or, as they called it in this dumbed down Saturday Cartoon of a bondage story, his “play room.”

They claimed that they toned down Grey’s the sex scenes to appease the MPAA rating board.  But I’m calling bullshit on that one.  In terms of ratings-testing sex, this film was a step above Pixar films.  Any drinking, drug-using teen having premarital sex in a horror movie is having raunchier sex than anything you’ll find here.

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Sex in the woods while in the middle of investigating some weird noises in the middle of the night?  Yes.  That IS steamier than anything in Fifty Shades of Grey.

This was no more risqué than any sex scene between Jean-Claude Van Damme or Sly Stallone and their action movie love interest, and it tested fewer awkward sexual limits than an episode of SpongeBob Squarepants.

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If you came for “sexy” then you’re in the wrong theater and I’d redirect you to almost any episode of Game of Thrones.

gameAnd can we talk about the name of our female star?  Anastasia Steele?!?!  Sounds like a very strong female presence, doesn’t she?  Yet she’s nothing of the sort, not even a little, not even when she puts her foot down about not being…well….I won’t say the name of the sex act but it’s a really nasty one that I’d wince to see on film—I winced when I saw it done to someone in Nymphomaniac.  Anastasia comes off as purely naïve behind her years, vulnerable (for all the wrong reasons), unsure of herself, scared, and far too easily swooned by a good-looking rich guy who takes her in a helicopter on their first date before revealing that he wants her to live with him in his condo McMansion as his sex slave.  BARF!  I thought movies female characters had moved beyond such materialistic impressions.  Guess not.

So what was good about this movie?

Not the characters nor their development (they really never developed).  They were just stagnant.

Not the dialogue…which was so fundamentally simplistic you’d think it was the movie they’d show people who were just learning English as a second language.

Not the sex scenes…nothing hot to see here that 80s and 90s action stars didn’t do better and with more sweat, passion, raunch and heat..

Not the glimpse into BDSM.  Driving by an adults only sex store and looking through the window in passing would confer more insight into this alternative lifestyle subculture than watching this cinematic drivel.

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Not the romance…there hardly was any.  And every time you get a taste, it gets squashed shortly thereafter.

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Not the ending….which was aggravating at best.  It was like hitting the pause button until the sequel gets released.

I’ve got to add just one more thing here before I let you write comments about how upset you are, how you loved the movie, and how I don’t know what I’m talking about.  Neither of these characters were very attractive.  I had a naked girl in front of me on a 20 foot screen and don’t think my heart rate changed.  The dude was maybe decent looking, but it was mostly the well-groomed hair and suit.  These two were a couple of 5’s, 6’s at best.  I wasn’t impressed.

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In closing, I really didn’t hate this movie like my review suggests.  I just have fun writing like a jerkish bro from time to time.  However, I meant what I said about what (wasn’t) good about this film…pretty much nothing.  I don’t recommend this film, not even for a date night.  Why?  Because even your girlfriend won’t like it.  Mine didn’t.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2015 9:56 am

    I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of this film since I have no interest in watching it, and I think this is my favourite!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      February 20, 2015 9:59 am

      Many thanks for your compliments of my scathing review. LOL. I clearly enjoyed writing about it more than I enjoyed watching it.

      • February 20, 2015 10:01 am

        Writing harsh reviews almost makes watching otherwise irredeemably terrible movies worthwhile!

      • John Leavengood permalink
        February 20, 2015 10:33 am

        Amen, brother! This is why I love watching delightfully bad horror. LOL.

Trackbacks

  1. The MFF Podcast #8: An exploration of 50 Shades of Grey and when saving the day goes wrong | Movies, Films & Flix
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