Around this time last year, I saw Fifty Shades Darker by myself at 11:00 A.M. on a Friday out of, um, journalistic duty. The experience was…interesting. So this year I wanted to see Fifty Shades Freed the way it was intended: with two friends, at 7:00 P.M. on a Thursday. The theater was by no means full and exactly one man was in the audience—he stared at us the whole time (thanks, creep!)—but we nevertheless persisted, put vodka in our Diet Cokes, and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Now, is Fifty Shades Freed good? Define “good.” Swedish Fish are good. Are they good for you? Are they hard to come by? Are they, by any stretch of the imagination, special, fancy, or high-quality? Probably not. But Swedish Fish hit the spot—and so does Fifty Shades Freed. Still, by the end of the movie I had a lot of questions—35 of them, to be exact. (Spoilers, obviously!)
1. Not technically a part of Fifty Shades Freed, but the last trailer before it started was for Book Club, that movie about women who read Fifty Shades. Is promoting a movie about your franchise’s fandom before your franchise’s movie iconic? I vote yes.
2.On their honeymoon Christian, who heretofore has had pretty good taste in terms of clothing, food, and interior design, gives Ana a charm bracelet with an Eiffel Tower charm to commemorate their trip to Paris. It’s doesn’t go with her enormous engagement ring at all and reminds me of this SNL sketch. Didn’t you get the memo, Christian, that women don’t want charm bracelets?
3. Still on their honeymoon, in the South of France, Christian and Ana lie side by side on a cabana on the beach and text…each other. What?
4. Speaking of, did they get new phones? We know Ana had an iPhone in Fifty Shades Darker because Christian gave her one, along with a new laptop. But now, suddenly, they are on Androids? Is this important? Certainly not, but I noticed it, so now you have to notice it too.
5. Ana, making the point that almost everyone on the beach is topless, tells Christian, “It’s boobs in boobland” in a perfect deadpan. Is this supposed to be a pun on “Babes in Toyland”?
6. Christian braids Ana’s hair before they bang. Why? I assume this is a thing from the books, but they never say in the movie.
7.Oh my God, we get it: Christian is possessive and controlling. What would happen if he just, like, chilled for a minute?
8. Hanna, Ana’s unabashedly horny assistant, is hot for Ana’s (very attractive) bodyguard Sawyer. So she responds to Ana’s request that they find someplace for Sawyer to sit by saying, “I might have an opening.” I would 100 percent watch a rom-com spin-off about the sexy adventures of Hanna and Sawyer. Who will make that for me?
9. Ana’s coworker Liz informs her that she got a promotion while she was on her honeymoon, to which Ana responds, “I got a promotion?” Liz replies with “And you weren’t even here.” Liz makes a good point. Ana never works, so…how did she get a promotion?
10. When we meet the architect Gia Matteo, who will be renovating their big house, she takes Christian by the arm and purrs, “That GQ profile on you? I love…what you’re doing in Africa.” What is he doing in Africa?
11. When Ana is dressing down that same architect, she calls the woman’s car “shit-colored.” It’s out of character, but is this Ana’s best burn in the series?
12. Ana’s professional wardrobe is so good. It makes me want to invest in a lot of expensive sheer stockings and a watch with no numbers on the face. Where’s the best place to buy those?
13. Oh, and now I want a wand that makes your hair do that wavy-curly thing her hair does! Where can I get something like that?
14. Also, Ana’s honeymoon wardrobe is amazing. Where does one shop for clothes like that?
15. Damn, Ana’s skin dewy. What serum is she using?
16. In the funniest moment of the movie, Ana’s bodyguards have caught Jack Hyde, who tried to attack Ana in her home, and want to restrain him. Unfortunately, they don’t have any cuffs. Ana, however, deadpans, “We do.” It’s hilarious. Is this movie actually a comedy?
17. When Ana wakes up, Christian’s all like, drunk and grumpy and wearing a tux. Why is he in a tux? Didn’t he just fly in from New York?
18. Rita Ora is onscreen while her song with Liam Payne is playing. Which reminds me: Why is Rita Ora basically nonexistent in this franchise?
19. I cannot overstate how funny the scene where Christian plays the piano is. He just plops down and starts playing and singing Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” This comes absolutely out of nowhere, but it does explain why we’ve seen a piano in his apartment. Still, this scene is so strange and I can’t get my head around how it happened?
20. Ana and Christian do sexy stuff with ice cream, but she doesn’t let Christian have any of the Ben & Jerry’s (relatable). I’m told he ends up putting some ice cream on her vagina, but I was in the bathroom for that part. So is that pretty much it, or did I miss anything?
21. Ana’s metallic dress is cute, but it looks like the club version of her silver dress from the masquerade, no?
22. Who the hell proposes to their girlfriend in a loud-ass nightclub? That’s just rude, Christian’s brother with an earring whose name I don’t remember.
23. Rita Ora and Ana’s one guy friend, José (who has maybe one line in this movie), play chess on the plane back from Aspen. Really, though?
24. As Ana calls Christian out for his immaturity while putting on her stockings and boots, but all I can think is, Great boots. Where can I get those boots?
25. When we see Ana get wheeled into surgery (for being kicked?), they also bandage her head because, I guess, she hit her head on the ground. The strangest thing, though, is that they bandage it over her hair. Why? I’m having trouble reconciling this.
26. There’s a version of this story in which Ana dies and Christian, wracked with guilt and pain, uses his fortune to become Batman. Can somebody write that?
27. Marcia Gay Harden, regal and resplendent in a silk scarf, pronounces tenacious like “tenacioussssssssssssssssss.” Why didn’t we get more screen time with her?
28. I just put it together that Kim Basinger’s character, Elena Lincoln, has the initials E.L. Like E.L. James, author of the Fifty Shades books. Did I crack the Da Vinci code? Can I have a MacArthur genius grant? You’re welcome for this stunning insight.
29. Not to keep poking at plot holes in a movie that’s obviously just for fun, but this foster care backstory makes zero sense with what we have already established about how Christian came to be adopted by the Greys. Just…how?
30. When Ana and Christian visit the grave of his birth mother, Ella, her last name is conveniently covered by foliage. What do we think it is? Steele? That’s my guess.
31. We’re treated to an extended flashback of Ana and Christian’s whole relationship. It’s totally fine until it reminds me how weird the ring scene in Fifty Shades Darker is. They cut it like she nods yes to his proposal, but at that point she had already accepted his offer to marry her and they’ve announced it to his entire family. He literally just gives her a ring with no stakes attached and that’s the big emotional climax of the movie? Note to self: Don’t worry about it.
32. Again, where is Rita Ora?
33. It’s not until Ana goes and puts Christian’s Sex Jeans out that I even realize he’s had Sex Jeans this whole time. Who makes them? Don’t they chafe?
34. “You’re topping from the bottom, Mrs. Grey. But I can live with that.” This is (basically) the last line of dialogue in the movie—and the whole series. Could anything be more perfect?
35. Apparently, reviews on this movie have been mixed. While I can’t quite argue for its cinematic merits, I do think it’s worth giving more credit to fun blockbusters that have a lot of fans. So what’s so bad about Fifty Shades Freed? Is it because it’s about female pleasure in all forms—clothes, adventure, love, sex? Is it because it’s adapted from fan fiction? I don’t think the movie takes itself all that seriously or asks its audience to. Instead, it promises a fun time at the theater, and it’s full of beautiful people in beautiful locations making out. On that, it delivers. I don’t know how many stars I’d give it, but out of a possible 50 shades of grey, at least 48.