So, yes, this movie is really happening. I know that after the book sold a trillion bajillion copies (even, depressingly, outselling my beloved Harry Potter in the UK – totally unacceptable) it was an inevitability. Still, the fact that a piece of filthy Twilight fanfic ended up not only on the best seller lists, but has a movie trilogy in the works, is deeply depressing to me.
Listen, I will admit, here and now, to all of the people who read this blog (and by that I mean myself, Ben, and probably our parents), that I read the ENTIRETY of the Fifty Shades trilogy. I guess you could say I like pain too. My friend passed along a PDF of the first book, and thanks to my compulsion to finish what I start, I dragged my ass through all three of those boring, awful, laughable and occasionally terrifying books, which made me not only want to be celibate, but maybe stop reading books forever. So the full disclosure on this post is that, unfortunately, I have a decent working knowledge of the actual contents of these books that have made suburban housewives across the globe start their blueprints for their very own “Red Rooms of Pain.”
Besides the fact that the subject material is blatantly awful, there are several issues with this movie, right off the bat. First was the casting rumor circus. First there was Armie Hammer. Then there was Emma Watson, who responded with one of the most perfect Tweets ever written. Then there was Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (really, Internet? Come on). The ladies were really holding out for Ian Somerhalder, or even Robert Pattinson, which would be so super meta. Finally we arrived at Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam to play Anastasia Steele, the virgin who doesn’t own a computer, and Christian Grey, the sociopathic boyfriend every housewife dreams of. (This decision, of course, didn’t come without its very own crazy Internet petition.)
So now, these poor actors are locked into a likely trilogy, unless we have another Mortal Instruments situation on our hands where the sequel may very well not even happen. We all saw what happened to Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, two unlikely stars who quickly became tabloid fodder after signing on to what appeared to be a basic teen romance series. I understand that these two particular actors needed a bit of widespread exposure. Dakota Johnson is fresh off of her critically acclaimed but barely watched series, Ben and Kate, after a quick cameo in The Social Network. Charlie Hunnam is arguably the more famous of the two thanks to his leading role in Sons of Anarchy, but is still far from a household name. Not only will this series bring quite a bit of notoriety, but probably not in a good way. If these two want to make money and be tabloid fodder, that’s cool. But having a Red Room of Pain scene on your reel (not to mention ANY scenes where you have to utter anything like EL James’ beyond blergh dialogue) probably won’t land you an Oscar-bait role one day.
The other big issue with the movie, as someone who has suffered her way through these books (sometimes it feels like an insult to books to call them books) is the rating. Make no mistake, the books are incredibly awkward, but they are GRAPHIC. In the first book alone, there are at least ten (if not a few more) pretty explicit sex scenes, ranging from Ana losing her virginity to Christian and having about fifteen orgasms (yeah, sure) from weird bathtub period sex to some pretty rough riding-crop play. The second book throws Ben-Wah balls and butt plugs into the mix, and it really just goes downhill from there. If the director decides to go NC-17 and include all of these scenes, then he’s going to lose a wide release- most theaters shy away from showing such an extreme rating. If he goes for R (the much more likely option), he’s going to have to cut or tailor those scenes so that they can be filmed. I can tell you right now, if he cuts the weird sex scenes, the movie will be two hours of Ana blushing, falling over, not having a computer, and saying “Oh my!” while Christian gets away with grammatically mangled phrases like “Fair point well made as always, Miss Steele” and creeping on Ana like… well, like a certain sparkly vampire stalker.
With the source material that it’s coming from and the challenges this movie has to deal with to even happen, there’s basically a surefire guarantee that the Fifty Shades adaptation will be nothing more than a drinking game. Hopefully it’ll join the ranks of Liz & Dick and Showgirls in the annals (heh) of “so bad it’s awesome” hate-watching. I’m almost looking forward to finding out. But I’ll probably fast forward through the buttplug stuff.