’50 Shades’ of Bleech ; ‘Dirty Grandpa’ Bad News
MOVIE REVIEW – “50 Shades of Black”
This spoof from the Wayans Brothers parodies the ultra-popular novel/film series Fifty Shades of Grey.
Rating: R (for strong crude sexual content including some graphic nudity, and for language throughout)
‘Fifty Shades of Black’ Review: Marlon WayansWhips Out Another Humorless Spoof
By Alonso Duralde
Parody of “Fifty Shades of Grey” has nothing to say — funny or otherwise — about the S&M book and movie phenomenon!
In her recent Jezebel piece “I’m So Damn Tired of Slave Movies,” Kara Brown notes, “I want stories about Solomon Northup and Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman to be told. But I also want to watch movies about black debutante balls and the Great Migration and a coming-of-age movie
about a black teenager in Houston who loves to skateboard and gets into trouble with her best friend.”
Missing from Brown’s wish list is a desire for a black Seltzer & Friedberg — the perpetrators of “Epic Movie” and the like — mainly because a) no one in their right mind wants that, and b) we’ve already got one, and his name is Marlon Wayans. And with “Fifty Shades of Black” he
continues his pattern of creating movie simulacra — calling them “parodies” or even “spoofs” puts far too fine a point on it — whereby we’re supposed to laugh because we recognize the thing that is being reenacted, rather than at some comedic point that the reenactment is making or even at a funny or silly joke that has been draped upon the reenactment.
The first “Scary Movie” had its moments, which seems shocking in retrospect since WayansSeltzer and Friedberg are all credited co-writers. (Perhaps that movie represents the Skynetattains-consciousness moment that some time-traveling film critic should attempt to destroy.)
Since then, however, Wayans has subjected us to countless insults to our collective intelligence and sense of humor, including two “A Haunted House” entries and now “Fifty Shades,” a laboriously humorless jab at a movie that already seemed halfway to self-parody on its own.
Compared to other recent Wayans efforts, this one at least maintains a sense of focus,slogging through a scene-by-scene re-do of the original movie with only a few departures intoother titles. (“Whiplash” and “Magic Mike,” if you must know.) But we still wind up with a
slapdash movie that’s more unbearable than the heavy-breathing best-seller and its emotionallytimid screen adaptation, even though the dreadful “Fifty Shades of Black” has the audacity to think it has earned the right to mock the slightly-less-dreadful “Fifty Shades of Grey”phenomenon.
I’m not recapping the plot, which touches on just about every moment from “Fifty Shades
of Grey” except for the glider. But here’s an example of the ha-ha jokes: Christian puts Hannah over his knee to spank her. He hurts his hand. She feels nothing. He hits her with a shovel. She puts on lipstick. He hits her with a stool, which shatters. She knits. Then she tells him she doesn’t feel anything down there since getting butt implants. Comedy!
As an actress, Hawk comes off as game and misused, and I felt genuinely bad for her for the film’s entire, nearly unendurable 92-minute running time. I also got very depressed watching Jane Seymour play an oblivious racist, Florence Henderson as a potty-mouthed
nymphomaniac, and Fred Willard just being there at all. Jenny Zigrino, as Hannah’s oversexed roommate, is subjected to perhaps the film’s most egregiously embarrassing dialogue and costuming, with the central joke being that she’s awful because she’s zaftig and likes sex.
If anyone involved with “Fifty Shades of Black” should take pride in their work, it’s cinematographer David Ortkiese and production designer Ermanno Di Febo-Orsini, who recreate the look of “Grey” right down to specific shots and sets, as should Wayans’ personal
trainer, who gave the actor a Jamie Dornan-comparable torso. Everyone else should bury this this one deep in the back of the bookshelf, like so many rightfully chagrined E.L. James fans.
MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Dirty Grandpa”
Jason Kelly [Zac Efron] is one week away from marrying his boss’s uber-controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm. However, when the straight-laced Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick [Robert De Niro], to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. Between riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke, Dick is on a quest to live his life to the fullest and bring Jason along for the ride.
Rating: R (for crude sexual content throughout, graphic nudity, and for language and drug use)
Review Believe the title; ‘Dirty Grandpa’ truly is, while failing left and right
When it’s time to hand out laurels at the end of the year, early releases sometimes slip under the radar. So here’s hoping that the January release of “Dirty Grandpa” doesn’t prevent critics from remembering the film when they make up their Worst Movies of 2016 lists, because it is truly deserving.
The film seems designed to see just how much further degradation Robert De Niro’s legacy can take, and at this point, the actor might be as well known for his late-career backslide into increasingly distressing dreck as he is for his indelible, influential work of the 1970s and ’80s. The funny thing is that he seems to be perfectly happy to do it.
In “Dirty Grandpa,” it appears that screenwriter John Phillips opened Final Draft and typed as many expletives, words for genitalia and gross, unfunny brand-based puns as he could think of — several dozen times. With set pieces recycled from old episodes of “MTV’s Spring Break” and the running themes of masculinity panic, homophobia, racial stereotypes and casual references to sexual assault (these couldn’t, in fairness, be described as “jokes”), there you have “Dirty Grandpa.” The plot follows Richard (De Niro) as he hijacks his uptight grandson Jason (Zac Efron) to Daytona Beach, Fla., so he can party after his wife’s death and talk Jason out of marrying the shrill Meredith (Julianne Hough).
“Dirty Grandpa” is a comedy starring Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Julianne Hough, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch and Dermot Mulroney. (ScreenPlay)
It goes without saying that the film is offensive, playing fast and loose with taboos such as the N-word, anti-Semitism, prison rape and child molestation, not to mention the treatment of women as mere orifices. But none of this is rendered in a particularly funny or novel way — just crude, shocking statements. Therefore, the film isn’t actually offensive because it’s trying so hard to be and failing miserably.
Much of “Dirty Grandpa'”s ire is directed at white males. Richard and everyone else constantly shame Jason for his slick, metrosexual/corporate lawyer life, with a continual gag referring to him as a “lesbian.” Efron submits gamely to the debasement, which often results in his nudity or an emasculating wardrobe.
Directed by Dan Mazer, the filmmaking is sloppy. Most of the scenes make little sense. Day is suddenly night, photos appear on a camera mysteriously, characters contradict themselves. Punchlines don’t land, and there’s an overreliance on the trope of slow-motion walking to a cool song. And even that’s not well executed.
Bright spots are found in the supporting cast, though the less said about Aubrey Plaza’s bizarre portrayal of horny, grandpa-fetishizing Lenore, the better. Hough is legitimately great as the marriage-obsessed control freak Meredith, a sort of female equivalent to the character played by Bradley Cooper in “Wedding Crashers.” Adam Pally is an always welcome presence. They just are not enough to pull “Dirty Grandpa” out of its ill-conceived and poorly executed gutter. Stay home and watch Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” instead.