‘Black’ succeeds in sex appeal, lacks humor
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A parody film’s job is to be at least twice as funny or greater than the film it is imitating. However, if a movie is imitating a romantic film like “Fifty Shades of Grey” that received poor reviews, the parody probably will be less than funny or even worse. And it was.
Michael Tiddes’ ‘Fifty Shades of Black,’ starring comedian Marlon Wayans and actress Kali Hawk, premiered on Jan. 29. Entertainment Weekly reported the film made $6.2 million during its opening weekend compared to Wayans’ previous film — ‘A Haunted House 2’ — which made about $8 million.
Building off the characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele from “Grey,” the parody film centers around businessman Christian Black (Wayans) and college student Hannah Steele (Hawk) as they begin a sexual relationship shortly after Hannah interviews him for school. Having not seen the film or read E.L. James’ novel, I am not sure how accurate this spoof was in terms of imitating the original film. Frankly, after seeing this version, I found myself to be uninterested in both the movie and book.
After the successes of the “Scary Movie” and “A Haunted House” franchises, Wayans has proven to be the only comedian to keep parody films alive. However, the humor was lacking as a result of the sex appeal of Wayans’ character.
He portrayed Christian as an incredibly handsome, aggressive, yet childlike man. Funny flashback scenes included Christian dancing as a “Magic Mike” stripper and losing his virginity to his mother’s older friend, who had young boys waiting in line to seduce her in the same room.
While Wayans was able to bring out a few giggles and chuckles, there was no pivotal moment of intense hilarity that highlighted his comedic ability. Most of the ladies in the theater were more mesmerized by his abs than his jokes and goofiness. That just screams the death of a comedian.
Wayans and Hawk had great chemistry on screen, portraying the intimate aspects of “Grey” perfectly, with a hint of chuckles. Scenes of the two staring at each other provocatively, slobbering each other with kisses in a crowded elevator, and Wayans’ character reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” as part of his S&M punishment kept the movie appealing. Both actors were surprisingly dynamic together, but failed horribly in their individual roles.
Hawk’s overall performance as Hannah was a snooze fest up until the end of the movie. Although she was portraying Anastasia in a similar role, Hawk’s acting was noticeably weak. She graced the screen in hilarious fashion near the end, which garnered the most laughs from the audience.
Despite lackluster performances from the two leads, the supporting actors kept the movie from sinking completely. Hannah’s best friend Jesse, played by Vine star King Bach under his real name, Andrew Bachelor, put his hilarious antics to good use as his character constantly attempted to sleep and make out with Hannah, making Hawk’s dreadful scenes a bit more bearable.
Along with Bachelor, comedian Kate Miner was incredible as Hannah’s promiscuous and hysterical roommate, Ashley, who shared an awkward sex scene with the very funny Affion Crockett, who played Christian’s brother, Eli.
Although the film was a flop, it was a great opportunity for new and underrated comedians to receive universal exposure from a wider fan base with Wayans’ help.
Scenes with veteran actors Mike Epps and Jane Seymour, who played Hannah’s freaky step-father and Christian’s racist mother respectively, brought humor and ridiculousness, but the overall movie just couldn’t deliver the cleverness and hilarity that Wayans’ previous movies successfully achieved.