Skip to main content

<em>50 Shades of Grey</em> review

We dare you to watch <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> and not laugh your ass off

“I want to take you to my play room.”

Please, Mr. Grey. Lead the way.

And now presenting a sentence I never expected to write, ever: I really, really enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey. Based on a ridiculously popular and poorly-reviewed novel of the same name, the erotic love story about a lonely man who wants nothing more than to swoop a young, virginal woman off of her feet and onto a whipping post should not be my kind of movie. Yet every second left me howling with laughter, jaw-dropped in stunned silence during hardcore sex scenes, or, at the very least, on the edge of my seat.

Not that I’m sitting here the morning after watching Fifty Shades of Grey thinking it’s a good movie. It’s not. But it’s highly enjoyable. There are huge, uproarious laughs to be had during the E.L. James adaptation, and they’re almost all at the expense of the film. When Christian Grey, in all sincerity and without provocation, leans into Anastasia Steele and moans, “If you were mine, you wouldn’t sit right for a week,” you can’t help but burst out into nervous laughter.

And that was the experience for the vast majority of the audience in my Fifty Shades screening. Audible, irrepressible giggling filled the air as Grey expresses his desires to bite Ana’s lip, “but not without [her] written consent,” and again when Ana calls Christian a sadist, and he helpfully corrects her: “No. I’m a dominant.” There’s the safe words Ana must remember when being pushed too far beyond her sexual limits: “Yellow” for caution, “red” for OK-wow-you-cannot-put-that-there. And then there’s Christian’s solemn promise: “I don’t make love. I f—k. Hard.”

This is the movie you’re paying to see when you pick up a Fifty Shades of Grey ticket. It’s ridiculous. Every strip of masking tape, every creatively applied tie, every flogger, everything will have you giggling at some point, assuming you have a pulse.

Except for the sex. Even then, some chuckles and gasps and sighs will escape your lips as Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson slip out of their clothes and into something less comfortable. But then comes the Beyoncé music. Then the groping. The heavy petting. Next, he baby-birds cold wine into her mouth, then kisses all over her body with an ice cube, and Beyoncé gets louder, and they get louder, and you get louder, and…

Whew. Sorry. It got hot in here for a second.

Look, the sex stuff is hot. I don’t take any pride in admitting it, but it is what it is: a very sexy movie. That’s impressive, considering numerous reports suggesting problems on the set, and a lack of camaraderie between lead stars Dornan and Johnson. The lack of chemistry absolutely shows in their not-having-sex scenes, but when the lights dim and the threat of penetration permeates the air (at least I believe that’s what I’m smelling), the heat is very much on.

When you walk into Fifty Shades, if you walk into it at all, you’re walking into it for the sex. It’s perhaps not as plentiful as you might expect, certainly not as much as featured in the book. (That’s the scoop from my wife, my plus one to the movie and a recent survivor of the Fifty Shades of Grey reading experience.) But the sex scenes that exist are explicit and shocking in their hotness. Dornan does not get nearly as naked as Johnson — that would be a hard feat to accomplish — but even in his case, if you look closely, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dong show, ala Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. And here I was thinking Dornan had a “no-todger” clause in his contract!

So, even though there’s very little chemistry between Dornan and Johnson as actors, and even though the kind of sexual relationship Christian Grey wants from Anastasia Steele is unconventional at best and harmful at worst, you root for these two to make it work. Not because you want a happily ever after, but because you want more sex scenes. And you want to laugh each and every single time they talk about it, or anything else for that matter.

I don’t take any pride in admitting it, but it is what it is: a very sexy movie.

What about the plot, you ask? This is it: Christian Grey is a high-powered industrialist who becomes obsessed with a graduating college student and virgin named Anastasia after a chance meeting during which she bites her lip and turns him on. He decides she must be his, and he aggressively pursues her, not to become his girlfriend, but to become his submissive in a BDSM relationship. She would be the 16th woman to agree to such a contract. And when I say contract, I mean it literally.

There’s a written form she must sign if she wants to continue seeing and sexing Christian, and the whole thrust (!) of the movie is about whether or not she’ll agree to his terms, or if she can convince him to loosen up. Spoiler alert: The last thing Christian Grey wants to do is loosen anything, except maybe his tie, for tightening purposes of course.

That’s it. That’s the plot, folks. What more can you expect from a story that started out as Twilight fan-fiction? From the very jump, Fifty Shades of Grey is built on bad bones. Good thing the boning is great. If you don’t believe me, enter Mr. Grey’s play room and see for yourself. I dare you.

Fifty Shades of Grey is in theaters this weekend.

Editors' Recommendations

Josh Wigler
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Josh Wigler is a freelance entertainment reporter who has been published by Comic Book Resources, Comics Alliance…
Where to watch A Christmas Story
Peter Billingsley in "A Christmas Story."

This year marks the 40th anniversary of A Christmas Story, one of the most beloved holiday movies of all time. But it wasn't always celebrated as a classic. With the passage of time, most have forgotten that A Christmas Story was only moderately successful in theaters (it made $19.2 million at the box office). It wasn't until TNT and TBS began regularly airing A Christmas Story during the holiday season that the film's popularity really took off.

The film was based on Jean Shepherd's novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, which was inspired by his life. Shepherd even has a role in the film as the voice of an older Ralph Parker who narrates the story. But the bulk of the movie belongs to young Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, a 9-year-old kid who has a very specific request for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Of course, a child that age shouldn't be playing with guns, hence the film's running gag and iconic catchphrase: "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."

Read more
Where to watch Love Actually
Keira Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Love Actually.

Most romantic comedies tend to focus on one or two couples. However, Love Actually ups the ante with eight different couples throughout the film, and you might need a scorecard to keep up with them all. Director Richard Curtis assembled an all-star cast for his ultimate rom-com. And it's also a Christmas movie!

Love Actually plays well year-round, but it's become a holiday favorite over the last two decades. This year also marks the 20th anniversary for Love Actually, which makes it the perfect time to revisit this classic flick -- preferably with someone you love. But for the single folks, there's a lot to like here as well.
Where is Love Actually streaming?

Read more
The best stand-up comedy on Netflix right now
Nate Bargatze performs in The Greatest American Average.

The best stand-up comedy on Netflix right now is both controversial and clean. Matt Rife's new stand-up special is facing some significant backlash, but it may be generating more interest in the set. Meanwhile, it's a good time to remind viewers about the presence of a Nate Bargatze special as his star continues to shine following a new special on Amazon Prime and an appearance hosting Saturday Night Live.
With new movies and shows coming to Netflix all the time, the stand-up comedy selection is always growing. We've parsed through the details and pulled out the best stand-up comedy on Netflix right now.
Looking for something else? We've also rounded up the best movies on Netflix, the best movies on Hulu, the best movies on Amazon Prime, and the best movies on Disney+. For Netflix fans, check out the 10 most popular shows on Netflix right now.

Matt Rife: Natural Selection (2023)

Read more