I'm just going to come and say it straight off the bat: Fifty Shades of Grey is the most fun I've had in a theater for ages - and this despite there being a blanket ban on fans being allowed to bring their own special "toys" with them.
I saw the highly-anticipated - and in some circles, much-maligned - adaptation of E.L. James' ridiculously successful naughty novel last night, and as a self-proclaimed doubter of all things Grey, I have to say the movie won me over.
Now, first I have to admit that I've never read the books completely, but I've gleaned enough to know my "inner goddesses" from my "dances of the seven veils" and have a firm grasp of the inner workings of Anastasia and Christian's relationship. I'm also well aware that on occasion James' prose and writing style has caused some people problems, but all that is brushed aside by screenwriter Kelly Marcel and director Sam Taylor-Johnson, who've delivered a slick, entertaining, funny and at times terrifying movie.
It's the best Rom-Com in ages
Yeah, I know that might sound like hyperbole, but honestly, the first 40 minutes of Fifty Shades are really funny - and intentionally so. The interplay between Dakota Johnson's Ana and Jamie Dornan's Christian is sometimes playful, often witty and even on occasion self-referential.
The climax of this comedic to-ing and fro-ing comes with the contract negotiation over Ana's decision to become Christian's submissive. The juxtaposition of the anodyne and serious tone of the legal jargon and the salacious acts Ana is unwilling to do (any sort of fisting is strictly off the table) is genuinely funny and was the point when my all my cynicism was finally and permanently burned away.
And yeah, there may be moments of unintentional hilarity - Christian carrying Ana's exhausted body after she'd been "fucked into next week" caused a fair amount of tittering in the bleachers - but for me, this only added to the movie's charm.
It's tonally all over the place - and this is a good thing
But Fifty Shades works on more levels than just a "girl-meets-boy, boy-spanks-girl-with-riding-crop" rom-com.
It's also a scary horror movie.
I know that Christian's "singular tastes" have been toned down somewhat for the movie, but he's still depicted as a border-line stalker and potential mass murderer in waiting. From the moment he approaches Ana in the hardware store and stocks up on all the tools any self-respecting serial killer needs, to him sending a creepy "I'm behind you" message before turning up unannounced in Savannah, GA, Mr Grey exhibits some pretty sociopathic tendencies.
And it's this swing in tone from rom-com laughs to predatory stalking that makes Fifty Shades unique: It's not always sure what it wants to be, but it is always batshit mental. And that's a good thing.
Which brings us to neatly to the sweaty, spanky elephant sitting in the corner...
The sex isn't the most interesting thing about the movie
Considering Fifty Shades deals with the finer points of BDSM, the actual nitty-gritty of getting down and bound is relatively tamely depicted in the movie.
Sure, the sex can be steamy at times and there's a fair amount of flesh on show - although nothing that would really make your grandmother blush - but in a time when Nymphomaniac and Blue is the Warmest Color are pushing the boundaries of on-screen flesh-on-flesh action, Fifty Shades plays it relatively safe.
But that's not to say it doesn't take the occasional risk. It might be R-rated but it's still a blockbuster that is going to bank a ton of cash. And that this success is built somewhat on the shoulders of anal beads and vaginal clamps makes me chuckle more than it probably should.