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Film review: Fifty Shades of Black - Marlon Wayans sends up E.L. James’ S&M erotica

Crushed by his own engorged ego, Wayans sinks to new depths of low-brow depravity in this desperately unfunny sex comedy - the actor-writer-producer’s latest crime against modern cinema

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2016, 10:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2016, 10:01pm

1/5 stars

Retooling last year’s erotic blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey as a gratingly unfunny sex comedy, Fifty Shades of Black stars Marlon Wayans as tortured young businessman Christian Black, who invites an inexperienced college student into a relationship of sexual exploration and dominance.

As if the film based on E.L. James’ novel wasn’t unintentionally hilarious enough already, Wayans and co-writer/producer Rick Alvarez sink to new depths of low-brow depravity in their search for a cheap laugh. The message remains, ultimately, one of female empowerment when confronted with spoilt insecure mommy’s boys, but here it’s presented through an endless blizzard of latex genitalia, racial epithets and bodily fluids.

Kali Hawk does her best to imbue heroine Hannah Steale with a likeable, wide-eyed innocence, while Jane Seymour is surprisingly game as Black’s rich white adoptive mother. But Fifty Shades of Black is Wayans’ show, and the actor-writer-producer is scarcely off camera.

Since the success of 2000’s Scary Movie, Wayans, often with brother Shawn in tow, has built a career on lacklustre parodies of more successful movies. Reading like a rap sheet of crimes against modern cinema, he’s responsible for White Chicks, Little Man and A Haunted House, all of which have somehow managed to turn a profit.

Wayans seems determined to ensure audiences forget he is actually capable of producing quality work when collaborating with the likes of Darren Aronofsky and the Coen Brothers, as he appears most comfortable right here, lying in the comedy gutter, crushed by his own engorged ego.

Fifty Shades of Black opens on June 23

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