‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is a boring chick flick
On its opening day, Fifty Shades of Grey grossed $2.2 million at the Philippine box office. It’s a certified blockbuster hit, thanks to the people who watched it out of curiosity and out of spite. The movie received an R18 rating from the MTRCB, yet the sex scenes were still blurred and blacked out by the movie’s distributor. (It was clearly a great week for censorship. First it’s gay men holding hands, next it’s an R18 film. We adults sure can’t handle it!)
Okay, let’s be honest: Some of us, particularly those who didn’t read the E.L. James series, went into Fifty Shades expecting a smut-fest of some sort. The mommy porn elements are what made the books famous in the first place. Sorry to break it to you, people who are about to see the movie: The sexy scenes are disappointing. There are more steamy scenes in one episode of Game of Thrones than the entire two-hour run of Fifty Shades. Do not expect much. If you take aside its botched depiction of BDSM, Fifty Shades is actually just a so-so chick flick. Look at all the chick flick tropes you can find in the movie (Spoilers ahead):
1| An attractive yet goofy heroine
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) starts off as a shy bookworm but eventually becomes a sassy chick who wouldn’t take shit from Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). As we all know, a feisty heroine is an essential element of the modern chick flick. Of course, she’s conventionally attractive. But Hollywood tried to make her more real and relatable by making her goofy. She trips on the meet cute. She sends drunk texts. She uses a flip phone. Before showing her his playroom, she asks Christian, “Are we going to play your Xbox?” Come on, she’s named Anastasia. In short, she’s a manic pixie dreamgirl.
2| A hunky love interest
Christian Grey is objectively hot. With his chiselled body and ruggedly handsome features, he’s at par with Ryan Gosling, Patrick Dempsey, and Papa P in their respective chick flicks. The man looks damn fine in a suit. And yes, with his shirt off. (Especially with his shirt off!) Christian is a powerful and covetable male with a dark past: He’s a 27-year-old billionaire who plays the piano when he gets depressed. Mr. Grey makes for great eye candy, but underneath the abs, he doesn’t seem to have much of a personality.
3| Everyone is pretty
Like in B-movies where college students are murdered one-by-one, every member of the cast is conventionally attractive. Even the guy who delivers Ana’s new Macbook could star in his own Fifty Shades spinoff. Show us some average people, Hollywood! Then again…
4| It’s a fairy tale
The movie is so ridiculous that you won’t believe it could happen in real life. Just like the majority of chick flicks, Fifty Shades is a fantasy. Actually, the movie does make a couple of references to fairy tales. The Alice in Wonderland bit was obvious: Ana wakes up to aspirin and orange juice labelled “Eat me” and “Drink me.” Christian and Ana’s situation is reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast. When Christian was about to reveal his secret porn dungeon, I was instantly reminded of The Tale of Bluebeard. Instead of murdered wives, his dark past consists of 15 “Submissives.”
5| Celebrity cameo
The singer Rita Ora is in this movie. Some chick flicks include one scene in which a celebrity makes either an entertaining or a forgettable appearance. See: Will Ferrell in 500 Days of Summer, Billy Idol in The Wedding Singer, and Rob Schneider in all Adam Sandler rom-coms.
6| Cute outfits
Anastasia looks like a less edgy Jane Birkin. Her no makeup makeup look is spot on, too. Although there isn’t a makeover sequence in the movie, Anastasia noticeably dresses better after Christian Grey happens.
7| Comic relief
The audience laughed several times throughout the film. What’s admirable about the movie, to me at least, is that it’s so self-aware about its ridiculousness. It knows it’s a rom-com. The characters say things like, “I don’t do love. I just fuck. Hard!” Which is something you’d likely hear in a sitcom. The sexy scenes were hard to take seriously. When Christian was demonstrating the flogger to Ana, I remembered Silas in The Da Vinci Code. This was supposed to be a sexy scene! Why was I reminded of self-flagellants during Semana Santa? It must have been the church music in the background. Maybe it was Christian’s resting bitch face as he ran the peacock-patterned flogger across Ana’s body. The Mahal na Araw vibe was undeniable.
8| Exhilarating date sequence
I’m talking about that scene where Christian stalks Anastasia in Georgia so he could take her on a plane ride. Chick flick staple.
9| Cool soundtrack
The movie includes songs by Sia, Beyonce, Annie Lennox, and Frank Sinatra. Like the chick flicks of late, Fifty Shades is accompanied by a cool soundtrack ala 500 Days of Summer.
10| There is a catchphrase
The script isn’t the movie’s strong suit. (I don’t know what its strong suit is. Maybe Dakota Johnson’s performance? The soundtrack?) The movie lacks witty banter, which is something important in successful rom-coms. Think Harry Met Sally, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Some Like It Hot. Think That Thing Called Tadhana. The chemistry between the leads feels forced. Christian doesn’t even send Anastasia flirty texts! Use emojis, mister. I guess the writers thought that a cheeky one-liner (“Laters, baby”) would catch on and gain the same pop culture status as “Hasta la vista, baby.” Because it’s so corny, and delivered ironically the few times it was said in the film, it sticks. It’s tacky but memorable—unlike the whole movie—and kind of useful when you don’t know how to gracefully end an article.
So, Laters, baby.