‘I’m not sick! Bill Cosby is sick. I’m a dominant.’ So goes one of the better gags in this predictable but unexpectedly enlightened pastiche from ‘Scary Movie’ writer-director Marlon Wayans. Yes, ‘Fifty Shades’ is a mile-wide target and no, Wayans never breaks a sweat sending it up. But while this could have been just as dubious as the original, deriving its humour from women being tied up and knocked around, Wayans smartly takes the opposite route and crams the film with jokes at the expense of his insignificantly hung and sexually incompetent anti-hero Christian Black – culminating in him being soundly thrashed while the heroine (Kali Hawk) screams: ‘This one’s for Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave”!’.
The plot follows the original movie blow-for-blow, as Hawk’s demure student Hannah applies for a job at Black’s corporate headquarters and ends up on a guided tour around his ‘red room’. But while the script scores the occasional bullseye (‘Who wrote this, a third-grader?’ screams Black when confronted with EL James’s novel), most of the jokes just aren’t funny enough and off-piste piss-takes of ‘Whiplash’ and ‘Magic Mike’ feel unnecessary. Still, if you’re a feminist with low standards and 90 minutes to kill, this might do the trick.