GUEST CRITIC #10: Fifty Shades of Grey



As busy I get from time to time, I find that I can't see every movie under the sun, leaving my friends and colleagues to fill in the blanks for me.  As poetically as I think I wax about movies on this website as a wannabe critic, sometimes a simple sentence or two from a friend says it all.  Sometimes, it inspires me to see the movie too and get back to being my circle's go-to movie guy.  Sometimes, they save me $9 and you 800+ words of blathering.  In a new review series, I'm opening my site to friend submissions for quick-hit movie reviews.


Since "Fifty Shades of Grey" has splashed onto the scene as box office juggernaut, grossing over $81 million and counting, I knew this film would and could attract more than one "guest critic."  Women are coming out of the Pinterest and beach-read woodwork by the box-wine-load to see this flick.  I put the all-call out on Facebook have picked up some sinners and winners.  I've got two takers so far.  Mr. Shanahan will see you now...

The second is Miss Kristin Wensler. She is a dedicated and phenomenal first grade teacher at the Smiley campus of the Gateway Science Academy in St. Louis, Missouri. For a time, I was her regional instructional coach for Concept Schools and had the wonderful pleasure of seeing her in action often with some amazing students and stellar lessons. Ever since, my region shifted to just Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis, I have greatly missed my chances to come down to St. Louis. More than the school work, I miss the Tuesday Trivia Nights where I was the visiting "ringer" trying to win some free drinks for some thirsty teachers. Those were the days.

Outside of school, Kristin is newly engaged to a lucky young man named Phil Hughes. She's an ardent St. Louis Cardinals fan, which puts here right there next to Packer girl Sharon on my Chicagoan hit-list. Just like Sharon, though, you can't fault being lucky enough be a fan of a winner. I have to bow in respect to both ladies and their superior teams. When she's not catching a ball game, you'll see Kristin rocking out to country music and drooling over Luke Bryan.


This is the first time Phil or I have ever written a review or even told strangers our opinion on a movie.  That being said, we are both movie people.  We love going to sneak peeks together and discussing the films afterwards.  We like a lot of the same movies minus, my dislike for horror movies and Phil’s love for them.  My favorite movie of all time is "Casablanca" and Phil’s favorite is "Fight Club."  We are honored to be guest critics for Don Shanahan and Every Movie Has a Lesson."

I have been excited and curious to see how the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson would be able to portray the book, “50 Shades of Grey” into film.  I read so many bad reviews that I must say, I was worried about the novel’s adaptation.  I went into the movie having read the trilogy, while Phil had not.  I was a little nervous of what Phil’s thought would be since he would be going into this sneak peek blind with nothing more than the preview trailers.  Here are our thoughts... 

KRISTIN:  "I really think the casting was well done and Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan worked very well together.  It was nice to see new faces.  I must say I was disappointed when Charlie Hunnam dropped out, but Dornan surprised me playing Christian Grey.  Dornan had all the sexual appeal from the book and played his dark side well."

PHIL:  "I too appreciated the casting – having never seen either of these actors nor read the book prior, I enjoyed their performances.  Dornan’s command of the intensity of his character almost hit but seemed slightly overacted at times.  Dakota did very well with her part.  I enjoyed her transformation from the flighty student filling in for an interview to the collected, comical contractor negotiator (favorite scene)."

KRISTIN:  "I felt there were a few things that were very similar to "Twilight."  Both films were based in Washington, both lead male characters had tried to push away the lead female character, the female characters in both films had issues with letting the male protect them, and in both films the males are a bit bossy.  There were also angles of the filming and awkwardness that reminded me of 'Twilight.'"

KRISTIN:  "The sexual scenes were all tastefully done. I was pleased, however, that a few of the scenes from the book were not included in the film.  Had they been, this movie would likely not have been rated R."

PHIL:  "Based on reviews I read prior to seeing "Fifty Shades of Grey,": I didn’t know what to expect – the range in commentary was pretty wide.  The development of Anastasia and Christian’s relationship throughout the film kept my interest and I found myself wanting to know what was next."

KRISTIN AND PHIL:  "The music was one of our favorite parts of the film.  The score (by Danny Elfman) was perfect.  During the movie Phil and I looked at each other and said, 'We’re downloading the soundtrack.'"

KRISTIN:  "The ending was true to the book and left you craving to know what happened next with Anastasia and Christian.  When the movie ended I checked my watch and couldn’t believe two hours had gone by so fast.  So much time has passed since I read the books that I came home and started reading the second book again to find out what happened next. I enjoyed the film and look forward to the next one."

PHIL AND KRISITN:  "We don’t recommend people who are uncomfortable with sexual situations – specifically BDSM – nudity, or profanity to see the film as it is full of the above.  If, however, this does not bother you, we think it is worth your $9.00."


I'd like to thank Kristin and Phil for their fun back-and-forth honest thoughts about "Fifty Shades of Grey."  They do more justice that the mocking I did in my own recent "blind review" of "Fifty Shades of Grey" this past weekend.  At some point, I will catch up and see it, but their review is gold.  Well played!  Thanks for letting me play along and thanks volunteering!   

As I always ask, let's keep this going.  Friends, if you see a movie that I don't see and want to be featured on my website (and get a fun fake biography written about you), hit up my website's Facebook page and you can be my next GUEST CRITIC!