Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) **

For years, the cable channel Cinemax has filled its late-night schedule with soft-porn offerings, inspiring the nickname “skinemax.” This is basically what you have in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie: a titty-flick, although with a bigger budget and probably better acting than most.

Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele, a virginal college student studying English Lit and living in the social shadow of her vivacious, blond roommate. When the roommate is too sick to perform her journalism class interview with businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), she dispatches Anastasia to ask the questions for her. Anastasia and Grey wind up hitting it off, bonding over the banality of questions like “What is the secret to your success?” and “Are you gay?” Soon, Anastasia is being wooed by the crisply-dressed billionaire, who reveals his taste for sexual sadism and offers her a contract detailing what her role would be like as his submissive sex-slave.

First of all, let's hear it for those names: Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. I haven't heard such awesome character names since Brock Landers and Chest Hardwell, from the movie “Boogie Nights.” If you can keep a straight face when these two characters introduce themselves, that's a good sign that this is the movie for you. If you can't keep the chuckles in, well, you can enjoy laughing your way through the unintentionally hilarious scenes of this film while you wait for them to get around to the kinky sex. They definitely take their time getting to it, spending time on helicopter and glider rides, and dragging out the nonsense about the contract forever. Once sexy-time finally arrives, the soft-core action is fairly good. Don't be expecting full-frontal nudity, but Anastasia spends a fair amount of time with her arms stretched over her head, wearing nothing but her panties, getting smacked with a riding crop.

The worst part about “Fifty Shades of Grey” (besides the self-loathing you will feel for watching it) is Jamie Dornan's acting. Dakota Johnson actually puts out some effort, and makes her character somewhat interesting despite the lame lines she has to recite. Dornan, on the other hand, plays Grey with absolutely zero personality, gazing at Anastasia with dead, shark eyes as he presents his contract to her like he's selling an insurance policy.

So should you rent “Fifty Shades of Grey?” Why not? It probably won't be the most miserable thing you do this week. Just know what you are signing up for: 30 minutes of soft-porn plus an hour and a half of laughable filler.

2 stars out of 5

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