Fifty shades of something
What do you get, when you take the word’s worst published novel and make it into a movie? Pretty much what you’d expect. Actually, in all honesty, since the book sucked ass from beginning to finish cutting out parts actually kind of, sort of, improved things.
For example, I was only treated to the line, ‘laters baby’ three times instead of fifty, and was spared the inner monologues regarding Anastasia’s “inner Goddess”. There was not a single “Jeez” (well over fifty of those in the book), “Oh, my” (probably 50 times in the book), or Holy (shit/fuck/crap/hell/cow/Moses)” (used over 150 times in the book…someone actually counted). We were even spared the scene with Bella’s tampon (excuse me, Ana’s tampon).
As bad as this movie is (it’s REALLY bad), I can’t understand why anyone who liked the book wouldn’t like it…perhaps because, in the harsh reality of screen-light, the characters appear to be every bit as mundane and unlikeable as they really are, and the dialogue as preposterous as it really is?
Yes, Virginia, a grown man should never refer a parlor as his ‘playroom’ and when he does you really do envision Pee Wee Herman dancing around in his. The actor’s delivery came across as wooden and contrived, but this was absolutely true to the writer’s fantasy. (“Mr Grey’s” film performance reminded me, strangely, of Steven Guttenburg’s character on Three Men and a Little Lady with the perpetual nondescript, confused wide-eyed stare. But, really, what was the actor supposed to do with that part?)
There was one “plot twist” (if I can use the term in a movie devoid of any real plot) that pleasantly surprised me: Anastasia’s “independence” was never really touted. When she ran home to her mother for “advice” it actually looked like she was…running home to her mother. When Mr Grey pursued her it actually came across like what it was (stalking). If anything, compared to the book he under-stalked, under-regulated, under-demanded by far. But not one reviewer (to my knowledge) has noted this…they’ve only noted how controlling the self-described sadist comes across, as though it were somehow new information.
But aside from discarding the “independence” aspect, the actress captured her character’s essence in the book, exact. She was precisely as clumsy, moronic and (to steal the line from the Lego Movie) the least talented and least extraordinary person in the world.
By contrast, Mr Grey is a self-made billionaire surrounded by beautiful people 24/7, is a beautiful looking person himself, accomplished pilot, athletic, plays the piano…but he is a tragic figure because he has that secret that makes him broody, and (for reasons that are never made clear) only Bella…er, Anastasia can fill his hollow soul. Because, under that sadistic/stalking/control freak is a really pure heart that needs cuddling by the least interesting person he could ever strap onto his play table. And he shows her just what a wonderful special snowflake she is in his estimation via a series of “firsts” (first sleepover in his bed, first girl to meet his parents, yadda yadda).
As a related side-note, I was also pleasantly surprised that the hens didn’t wear skanky outfits. They sure talked such a big game, “Wear your costume, hee hee!” They spoke of props and masks, and so forth. I thought I’d be “out of costume” wearing jeans and my hoodie with sneakers, but they were all dressed about the same. I think there were three men in the whole theater, with their dates probably sixty or so women. And, in fact, none of those women brought the “props” or wore the types of cougar suits I’d expected.
When I left, I felt as though I’d eaten a bad meal with mild indigestion. Kind of like leaving the scene of an accident, I didn’t look around but just headed straight for the door and wanted to get the hell out of there…but I never once actually had to fight a compulsion to yell ‘fire’ in the crowded theater to escape, so there’s that. Going in with the extraordinarily low expectations I had for this movie…it met them, but didn’t exceed them.
Thanks Liz. That you managed to add humour to the review speaks volumes of you. Brava!