Review: 50 Shades of Grey

50-shades In case you came for the TL;DR on the movie that’s kind of about butt plugs, I’ll hit you with it right off the top – it’s not that bad! Honestly, from all the highly entertaining, shade-throwing press junkets the film leads did pre-premiere it looked like their on-screen chemistry might end up tepid at best. And while the movie does have some appalling problems, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan’s performances aren’t on that list.

If you somehow haven’t already heard, 50 Shades of Grey is about a young woman losing her innocence to a highly damaged monster with an unlimited bank account and incredible abs. For the first major motion picture based on Twilight fan fiction, the end result on celluloid could’ve been much worse. In fact it’s quite funny! It’s unintentionally hilarious, but hilarious none the less. My screening had everyone laughing at the awful dialogue and ridiculous story throughout. It’s kind of amazing how bad it is, but it would have been much worse if the two stars hadn’t played it so deadly serious.

Johnson is the stronger actor of the two, portraying Anastasia Steele (really?) as a dewy-eyed virgin begging to be savaged by the handsome devil Christian Grey, who she hopes to save from his evil compulsions. She’s very girl-next-door pretty, which helps since she’s naked for about a ¼ of her total screen time. With a couple of coy glances and a bite of her lip, she sells the role in a way I’m not sure the other, more famous actresses considered could have. As for Dornan, well, he’s very pretty too. His role is to look hot and be intense, and he does an adequate job. His whole performance is done with his eyes, and helps make his tortured character more believable. If the script wasn’t so rip-roaringly awful, he might be getting a bit more attention, but it’s hard to compete with both that issue AND Dakota Johnson’s nipples.

Speaking of which, we all came here for the sex, and as far as that goes they do have a lot of it, though not in the way you might expect. The producers and directors originally wanted an NC-17 rating, and it would have helped. What you do get is some pretty tame, soft-core porn style action, which is admittedly fairly hot and helped by the previously discussed nipples. Readers of the books will be disappointed if they expected the VERY hard-core BDSM acts presented in print to be duplicated on-screen. And it turns out Dornan had a no-penis clause in his contract, so sorry ladies! Also worth noting, apparently pubic hair is making a comeback?

While they could’ve pushed the limits further, 50 Shades ends up being more watchable than expected. A better script and some sexier sex would’ve helped, and hopefully that gets rectified in the inevitable sequels. See it for the laughs, but don’t expect much more then a tawdry run through a young girl’s bad decisions.

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