'50 Shades' Reviews: 20 Slams More Painful Than the Red Room

el james, sam taylor-johnson, jamie dornan, dakota johnson fifty shades premiereWhether you loved, loathed, or felt thoroughly "meh" about Fifty Shades of Grey, there was one universal reaction among audiences: laughter. Admit it. You probably laughed at least a handful of times -- either at parts that were meant to be comical, or not -- during your screening of the controversial flick. Yes, the sexy flick about a billionaire dominant attempting to convince an innocent college student to be his next submissive turned out to be ... a comedy! (Or, at the very least, a dramedy.)


So in the spirit of all of that guffawing and giggling at and with Christian and Ana, we rounded up 20 of the funniest, most biting criticisms about the flick. Read 'em and weep -- I mean, laugh.

1. "Mr. Dornan, given the job of inspiring lust, fascination and also maybe a tiny, thrilling frisson of fear, succeeds mainly in eliciting pity ... Mr Dornan has the bland affect of a model, by which I mean a figure made of balsa wood or Lego." -- A.O. Scott, The New York Times

2. "Think of it as the Downton Abbey of bondage, designed neither to menace nor to offend but purely to cosset the fatigued imagination. You get dirtier talk in most action movies, and more genitalia in a TED talk on Renaissance sculpture." -- Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

3. "The adaptation of E.L. James' salacious novel delivers on the source material — but that's not exactly a compliment ... most viewers will be seeking a safe word to escape this two-hour-plus mess of half-baked excess." -- Eric Kohn, Indiewire

4. "Unlike on their press tour, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan did not come off like they hated each other in the Fifty Shades movie. Rather, they seemed like two cousins (and not the Les Cousins Dangereux types) who were accidentally cast as romantic leads and felt very uncomfortable about it. ... Johnson ... made the best of Anastasia's horny lip chewing like a total pro, but the chemistry simply wasn't there. I'm sad to say (because I love him) that the fault lied primarily with Dornan who seemed far too distracted trying to keep up his accent (which he did great work with, assuming Christian Grey is supposed to be mostly Irish and sometimes—puzzlingly—Dutch) to even begin engaging with another person. As such, chemistry was instead demonstrated through a lot of heavy breathing (Johnson) and panicked wide-eyed staring (Dornan)." -- Madeleine Davies, Jezebel

More from The Stir: '50 Shades' Review: The Final Cut Will Leave You Wanting More

5. "[Screenwriter Kelly] Marcel performed nothing short of a miracle here, turning hapless, unreadable fan-fiction rubbish that somehow caught fire into a capable, slow-building script." -- Josh Dickey, Mashable

6. "I’m shocked -- shocked, do you hear me?!? -- that the film version of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Greyis such a dull, decorous affair, about as erotic as an ad for Pottery Barn. ... A few early reviews have given the film a pass, because it’s not as dirty as advertised. They seem grateful. I’m disappointed. Twisted me! The true audiences for Fifty Shades of Grey are gluttons for punishment — by boredom." -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

7. "Ironically, the most consensual activity that takes place in the film is the sex." -- Zoe Margolis, TheNewStatesman.com

8. "Because the Internet is already aflame with reviews of Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan’s sultry performances, here’s something a little different. ... I literally reviewed fifty shades of grey, from an “Intellectual Grey” paint chip to Grey’s Anatomy." -- Anna Klassen, Bustle

9. "The Fifty Shades trilogy may have first surfaced in 2009 as a work of Twilight fan fiction, but it quickly distinguished itself as its own hugely successful, thoroughly dubious pop-lit phenomenon ... And for all the deserved criticisms of [Twilight author] Meyer's prose style, she really had nothing on [E. L. James] in that department, as demonstrated by sentences like "Desire pools dark and deadly in my groin" and "The muscles inside the deepest, darkest part of me clench in the most delicious fashion." Is it sadomasochistic longing or is it irritable bowel syndrome? ... At any rate, it may partly explain why our heroine spends much of the movie looking not entirely in control of her lunch." -- Justin Chang, Variety

10. "The movie Fifty Shades of Grey will work better as home entertainment, when each viewer can race past the blah-blah about how well Christian plays the piano and pause on the fleeting image of the man minus his pants." -- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

11. "I don't get how people are so turned on by all of this. If anything it made me feel like I was doing my life wrong. Maybe I just need to get a prescription for Xanax. Or maybe this is why I only get turned on by gay One Direction fan fiction." -- Eliza Thompson, Cosmopolitan

12. "There have been perfume commercials with more depth and story arc." -- Lindsay Bahr, Associated Press

13. "The, er, climax. It’s not satisfying." -- Mara Reinstein, US Weekly

14. "Anyone who has dabbled even casually in S&M will find Fifty Shades of Grey cruelly mild, though a few might get off on knowing that in the theater next door the kiddies are watching SpongeBob." -- David Edelstein, Vulture

15. "The entire movie is about as sexy as a root canal." -- Rex Reed, The Observer

16. “Bland and dull, except for the rare moments when it is unintentionally hilarious, all Fifty Shades has to teach the curious is that it doesn’t matter how many shades of grey you use, you will just end up with a drab, colorless blob." -- Joshua Starnes, comingsoon.net

17. "Fifty Shades of Grey may be the first film in history made specifically for the purposes of hate-watching." -- Bill Clark, From the Balcony 

18. "Dornan appears to have mistaken lack of affect for mystery, and despite his assertion that he’s “50 shades of fucked up,” he has about three shades, four at best. The character’s creepier, more abusive tendencies, while impossible to remove entirely (can we just mention that he tracks Ana’s location by tracing her phone?), are downplayed, and Christian functions as a sort of well-dressed Wikipedia article about BDSM onto which Ana can project her inner conflict." -- Katie Rife, A.V. Club

19. "If, though, you happen to notice an undercurrent of terror in Johnson and Dornan's performances, a look on their faces that says 'Holy nipple clamps, what have we gotten ourselves into?,' do try to be sympathetic. The mega-fame they're in for comes with liberal doses of pleasure and pain." -- Alynda Wheat, People

20. "An unashamed and genially preposterous fairy tale, a kind of 'Cinderella' with restraints, '50 Shades' is about as believable as 'Jack and the Beanstalk,' albeit considerably more kinky in intent." -- Kenneth Turan, LA Times

Which of these hilariously, painfully honest points would you agree with the most?


Image via Ian Gavan/Getty

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