Yup. I had to. For the sake of cultural literacy. For my own curiosity — I had to see if it sucked as badly as I’d imagined it would.
It did. And then some.
What am I talking about, kids? Of course. Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie. I Netflixed it last month, while I was homebound suffering from a stomach bug. I figured I was already nauseated, so what the hell.
I’d like to preface my review with this gleeful tidbit — the nominations for the annual Razzies (the Golden Raspberry Awards, the anti-Oscars, for all the worst in motion pictures) were announced. FSOG leads the pack, with six nominations, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Actress, and Worst Screen Coupling. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson on screen together were about as hot as soggy leftover pancakes. Last night, Conan O’Brien mentioned the Razzie nominations, and then joked, “When the director heard, she said, ‘Oh dear, I guess I’ll have to be punished!'” Then he mimed spanking himself. I laughed and cringed at the same time.
I won’t go into a thorough review of the movie itself — I mean, by now, everyone in the scene has already watched it, or heard everything about it (hashed and rehashed and argued over to death), so there’s no need for that. Just a few of my own personal observations.
The acting was awful. Last year, I sneeringly referred to Jamie Dornan as “Jamie Doorknob,” and now I see how prescient I was. Because his performance in this film had all the charisma and excitement of, well, a doorknob. And Dakota Johnson could win an Oscar… if they gave Oscars for lip-biting.
My one kudo to the film: At least they dispensed with all that nonsense in the book with Anastasia and her constant dialogue with her “inner goddess.” No mention of that, anywhere. Oh, and that controversial bit in the book where Christian, unwilling to postpone sex, unceremoniously yanks out Ana’s tampon? That was gone too. Small mercies.
Clichés ran rampant — the whole “You can’t love me, I’m flawed! I’m a sick fuck!” bit, with Christian practically banging his head against the wall over it, and Ana agonizing and lip-biting over it. The “suave man of the world vs. innocent virgin” bit. When he first takes her to the Red Room and he says, “This is where I keep my toys” and she asks, “What, like your XBox?” I almost croaked. Right, Ana, because grown men keep their video games under lock and key.
I won’t even talk about the creepy way he stalked her and practically took over her life. We all know about that part. But of course, because he was so incredibly gorgeous and so fucking rich, he could get away with that sort of thing.
There was lots and lots of sex. Both Jamie and Dakota have nice bodies. Everything was lushly lit and dramatically scored. But… yawwwwwwwwn. Again, no chemistry. No heat. Everything looked and seemed scripted and rote. BDSM 101.
And speaking of BDSM… Now I will talk about the two scenes that pissed me off the most.
Ana, besides chewing on her lip, has a bad habit of rolling her eyes. About two-thirds into the movie (finally!!), Christian says, “You roll your eyes at me one more time and I’m taking you across my knee.” OK, possibly the hottest line in the whole damn thing. And of course, she rolls her eyes again a minute later.
This scene could have been so, so hot. It had such promise. He drags her over to the couch, pulls her over, lifts her skirt and peels her panties down. All good. And then… he gives her three slow, light, half-assed (pun intended) swats.
After those three paltry little swats, he then says, “Welcome to my world,” and lets her back up. Um, stop the world, I want to get off. This wasn’t a spanking. This was a tease. If I were to liken this scene to chocolate cake, it was a mere crumb, too inconsequential to even taste.
A huge part of the story is the BDSM contract, which incidentally, Ana never signs, even though they’re engaging in all sorts of play and sex and so forth. In the big dramatic finish (thank goodness, it’s almost over), she is desperate to know exactly what “punishment” would entail. He is holding back, itching to show her, but knowing it would be wrong. She insists. “Do it. Punish me. Show me what it would be like.” She pushes and pushes for it until he finally, reluctantly gives in. By now, we’re thinking he’s going to do God-knows-what to her.
He takes her to the dungeon and bends her over a table. “Are you sure?” “Yes.” He gives her every possible option to back out. He reminds her of her safe word. Nope, she wants it. So what is her dreaded punishment?
Six strokes with a strap.
Bitch, please. That’s not punishment. That’s freaking foreplay.
The scene itself is lame — of course, Ms. Johnson doesn’t really want her sweet young flesh tainted with strap marks, so we never see impact, just Jamie swinging the strap and Dakota’s agonized face. We hear the strokes, and hear her weepy voice doing the count.
When it’s over, he goes to hold her. She angrily pushes him away. “Don’t touch me! You are NEVER doing that to me again!” and she storms out of the room and out of his life.
Um, what? She asked him to do it. She insisted that he do it. He didn’t want to, remember? Hypocrisy, much? All this time, she’s been engaging in all manner of kinky-fuckery with him. She put up with his stalking, his coldness, his arrogance and other assorted bad behaviors. Then he gives her a small taste of what she asked for, and she pulls the righteous, wounded damsel card? She then suddenly grows a pair, gives him back all his gifts and she’s outta there.
Of course, we know it’s not really over. We know this is going to drag on and on into two more films. Ugh.
So, even though I wasted two hours of my life, I’m glad I watched it. Now I can speak from experience. Now people can’t say to me, “Well, you don’t know, you haven’t seen it.” Now I know. It’s a POS film made from an even bigger POS book.
Good luck at the Razzies, FSOG. May the worst film win.
Have a great weekend, y’all.