I read the reviews this morning in The Columbus Dispatch and The New York Times.
The reviewers of both newspapers shared the opinion that the film's dialogue was so bad that it was funny, and the parts that weren't funny were just bad. Still, both agreed, the movie was better than the book in that the movie at least had spiffy sets and music.
I can't say I care if Fifty Shades of Grey got rotten tomato reviews, I wasn't going to see it anyway. The movie is based on a book whose storyline, as I understand it to be - a girl who likes being dominated by a rich, handsome powerful guy - doesn't really appeal to me.
Now I have to admit that my judgement is based mostly on what I've read and heard about it as I didn't read the book. Or much of it anyway. But I did try to read it.
At least four times I grabbed a copy of Fifty Shades Of Grey off a store shelf open to the possibility that I might buy it, take it home, and read it. And at least four times, after perusing a few pages, I had to put the book back on the shelf.
It wasn't because of the dirty parts - three out of four times I never even got that far. It was because the book was written in the written-for-adolescents- style of a girly, powder puffy series of books my daughters used to read when they were in middle school called Sweet Valley Twins.
Which I guess shouldn't come as a complete surprise as E.L. James used to write online Twilight fan fiction, which consists of spin-off Twilight stories written by Twilight fans for other Twilight fans to read. Apparently Fifty Shades Of Grey started out as just another Twilight fan fiction story, but then it started going off in a direction of its own, as stories will do as you're writing them, so the author replaced the Twilight characters with new characters and just let the thing rip. So to speak.
(I actually used to make up Berenstain Bears fan fiction. When my kids were little they loved the Berenstain Bears books so much that they sometimes asked me to make up more stories about the Berenstain Bears for them. So I did. Only my Berenstain Bears stories never took the kind of a turn that E.L. James' Twilight stories did).
Anyway, the final time I reached for Fifty Shades of Grey - I was meandering around in the book department of Sam's club - I decided to look for some of the book's dirty parts, just to see if that's what all the fuss was about.
I felt like I was reading "Sweet Valley Twins Go Slutty." Or at least one of the twins.
But the experience left me cogitating upon two questions: With all the millions of pages of pornography that must be slithering around out there, what is it about this particular book that raised it to a legitimate mainstream hit? Gave it the special classification of "Mommy Porn", as if it were a special kind of porn that's an appropriate read for your women's book club? (And I'm not making that up, I know of women who have read it for their book club).
To this question I think I've come up with the answer:
I think the book's sex parts are carried along by the non-sex parts, which are so innocuously written as if to appeal to the normal preoccupations and fantasies of a 13-year-old girl (I'm not that pretty, my clothes aren't right, my BFF is so much cuter than me but it's me that he likes, he's so rich and gorgeous, I can't believe he likes me). Kind of like S&M mixed with M&M's.
My second question is this: Why the heck are women by the billions reading this thing past the first two pages?
Is it because this is the only way they can get away with reading porn? Or because women like their porn wrapped in pink cotton candy? Or could it be, as many students of human behavior have written, that deep down inside women have an unconscious desire to be dominated by a man? That they like to be in a position of feeling submissive?
To these questions I do not know the answer.
I'll have to roll 'em by by the Panera Posse.