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MOVIE REVIEW: 50 Shades of Black

Posted at 7:57 AM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 10:02:50-05

When the movie you're mocking is unintentionally funnier than the one you made, you've got a problem.

The bloated, dumb mess that is "Fifty Shades of Grey" -- with its unsexy, trying-way-too-hard sex scenes, endless cliches and shoddy acting -- seems like the perfect target for a "Scary Movie"-style spoof, but the movie is so bad that it's nearly impossible to outdo its awfulness.

So the task before Michael Tiddes is daunting. How do you ridicule the ridiculous? Instead of coming up with creative solutions, Tiddes plays it straight, pretty much recreating the movie scene for scene, exaggerating the existing silliness while interjecting cheap sight gags and rough slapstick wherever possible.

Example: When mousy college student Hannah (Kali Hawk) first approaches the antiseptic office door of reclusive playboy millionaire Christian Black (Marlon Wayans), Tiddes looks to play up Hannah's tredpidation. Hannah has trouble opening the door, so she hits it, pulls on it and eventually slams her body into it like a battering ram, coincidentally at the exact moment Christian opens it up, making her stumble into the office.

Not funny. Similar escapades occur when Christian initiates Hannah into his world of wining, dining and ever-so-sweet sadomasochism with a spanking session that escalates into WWE-style stool-bashing. 

"Fifty Shades of Black" could have had some fun at the expense of the source material with cultural comparisons, but Tiddes chooses this, of all areas, to soft-pedal, as though he's being super careful not to offend anyone. An odd choice for a film that plays fast and loose with bodily fluids and grotesque sex gags.

There probably isn't a way the movie could have worked, but you see flashes of competence every now and again. Hawk emulates the overblown meekness of "Grey's" Dakota Johnson, and Marlon Wayans is having so much fun sinking into the role of the aloof pervert that you half hope he manages to will the weak material to competence.

What few funny moments there are in "Black" are funnier in "Grey" when you're laughing with, and not at the dumbness. The abuse that Hannah endures as she slinks into Black's world has got nothing on what the audience is in for.


Bridge of Spies
Tom Hanks stars in this Steven Spielberg-directed best picture Oscar nominee, a true story about a high-stakes Cold War spy exchange between the U.S. and the Soviets. Hanks plays attorney James Donovan, who undertakes the secret mission, putting his life, reputation and career at risk as he tries to parlay a captured Soviet agent for a swap for a downed American spy pilot and a student who was arrested in East Berlin. Spielberg digs in to the spy games to tell a human story, with Hanks delivering his usual heartfelt performance. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy comes with several short-form documentaries about aspects of the real-life events behind the story.
Forever: The Complete Series
Though accurate, the "Complete Series" tag is a little misleading, because the ABC drama ran just one season. The show follows the saga of an immortal New York City medical examiner (Ioan Gruffudd), who survives a train crash and sparks a romance with an NYPD detective (Alana De La Garza) as he helps her solve crimes. The short-lived series belies the subject matter, but it's easy to see why there's a sizable cult following behind the show. Extras include previously unreleased deleted scenes.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Disney gives the 1937 classic a second spin on Blu-ray, this time adding a digital version to the Blu-ray/DVD package. Although there are no audio or visual improvements over the 2009 release, there are some new extras to explore, including a Walt Disney interview about his inspiration for the film, a featurette on little-known facts about the film and an intense look at the groundbreaking animation process used to craft the timeless tale.