© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rob Edelman: Fifty Shades of Nothing

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL came to movie theaters just about a year ago. Unlike most films that are released early in any given year, it managed to nab oodles of Academy Award nominations. Well, here is a prediction that is as certain as tomorrow’s sunrise: When it comes to Oscar nominations, or any kind of nominations other than for Razzie Awards, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, the much-hyped so-called erotic drama, will not be THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL of 2015.

Indeed, cinematically-speaking, the questions of the moment are: Why would anybody want to shell out money to see FIFTY SHADES OF GREY? Do any of us really care about offering up a detailed, scholarly analysis of how the film compares to the novel on which it is based? How many of us have spent sleepless nights in anticipation of seeing two attractive actors sans clothing, in a scenario involving bondage and other varieties of sexual domination? 

Well, plenty of people are paying to see FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. As reported by the Associated Press on February 15, “Audiences were more than curious to check out the big-screen adaptation of the racy phenomenon FIFTY SHADES OF GREY this weekend. The erotic R-rated drama sizzled in its debut, earning an estimated $81.7-million from 3,646 theaters in its first three days, distributor Universal Pictures said on Sunday. In addition to destroying Valentine’s and Presidents Day weekend records, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY has also become the second-highest February debut ever, behind PASSION OF THE CHRIST’S $83.9-million opening in 2004.” Let me add here that it is anybody’s guess as to the cultural implications of citing FIFTY SHADES OF GREY in the same sentence as PASSION OF THE CHRIST.

In any case, the central character in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is a college-age woman who would like a nice, “normal” relationship with a guy. She finds herself becoming involved with a man who is supposed to be the dream of every female. He is super-slick. He is super-good-looking: male-model good-looking. He is super-powerful. He is super-wealthy. Indeed, he is described in the media as “the world’s most eligible billionaire bachelor.” But there is a problem. It just so happens that this “ridiculously hot” commodity is heavily into S&M. And so, what is our heroine to do?

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is at best watchable. But primarily, it is a silly soap opera, an R-rated AS THE WORLD TURNS. While viewing FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, I was reminded of THAT TOUCH OF MINK, a 1962 rom.com in which super-famous, super-wealthy Cary Grant attempts to seduce sweet, virginal small town girl Doris Day. But he only will succeed if he presents her with a wedding ring. Such was life in the mainstream of America before the sexual revolution.

While watching FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, I found myself glancing at my watch, wondering how much longer this 125-minute-long film was going to last. This always is a bad sign. No indeed, a year from now, when the next batch of Oscars are doled out, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY likely will be long-forgotten.

Rob Edelman teaches film history at the University at Albany. He has written several books on film and television, and is an associate editor of Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide.


The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

Related Content