'Fifty Shades Freed': It's 2018's biggest comedy yet!

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades Freed. (Photo: Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Fifty Shades Freed.

Laughing during sex is accepted, and even encouraged, in Fifty Shades Freed, the third and final chapter in the Fifty Shades franchise that began with the 2015 adaptation of E.L. James’s bestselling trilogy. On the page, the depiction of the S&M-laced romance between the bookish Anastasia Steele and the brooding Christian Grey (played by Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan onscreen) was serious to a fault. In contrast, the chief pleasure of the film versions has been their pronounced comic streak, which reaches its apex in Freed.

Think back to the couple’s hardware store meeting early on in Fifty Shades of Grey, where they trade double-entendre-laden lines about duct tape and rope.

Laughs also abound in the extended sequence where Ana carefully reviews the contract that Christian has had drawn up negotiating the exact terms, and toys, to be used in their arrangement. For example, vibrators and dildos are acceptable, but genital clamps? Strike them from the record.

And if you’re in the market for a two-word example of the franchise’s sense of humor, may we suggest “pommel horse”?

Now, some might argue that these scenes are a case study in unintentional comedy, of which there is a fair amount in all three movies. But there’s also plenty of evidence in their performances, as well as off-screen remarks, that Johnson and Dornan recognize and lean into the absurdity of the series. Let’s not forget that it was Dornan who personally okayed the infamous Chronicles of Riddick cameo in Fifty Shades Darker, telling a reporter at the time that he “thought it would be kind of funny.” And both actors go about their business in Fifty Shades Freed with barely concealed smiles as the now married Mr. and Mrs. Grey fend off the attacks of a stalker with a connection to Christian’s past and wrestle with a whole new world: parenthood.

At the screening Yahoo Entertainment attended this week, scattered chuckles gave way to waves of unapologetic laughter as the movie unspooled, and we have a sneaking suspicion that’s precisely the response everyone involved with the film hoped for … with the likely exception of E.L. James.

Here are the five funniest moments in the Fifty Shades trilogy capper.

Anastasia Steele, lit-world superstar

Over the course of two years and three movies, 21-year-old Steele has improbably risen from a hardware store employee to the head of a fiction imprint at a major publishing company. It’s a rise that she chalks up, in part, to Christian’s influence, but he insists it is due to her own eye for what sells. And apparently what sells is larger fonts! Walking away from a huddle session, Ana directs one of her employees to “increase the font size by two points” on a book jacket. It’s such a random direction that it feels improvised on the spot by Johnson, who clearly doesn’t put much stock in her alter ego’s business savvy.

Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, and Dakota Johnson are amazed by Dornan’s rendition of “Maybe I’m Amazed” in Fifty Shades Freed. (Photo: Doane Gregory/Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

Wind beneath her Wings

Apparently, Paul McCartney was Christian’s first love before Vin Diesel. While on a rustic getaway with his bride and her buddies, the classically trained pianist serenades them with a spectacularly cheesy rendition of the 1971 Wings anthem “Maybe I’m Amazed” while tickling the ivories. It’s a showstopper in that it literally stops the movie dead in its tracks, and Dornan milks his big musical moment for all it’s worth. Kickstarter to fund a whole album in which Christian covers everything from “Tiny Dancer” to “Look What You Made Me Do”?

The fast and the ridiculous

While piloting a souped-up luxury vehicle back to Seattle from the rustic mansion that Christian has purchased as their future home, Ana is pursued by a mystery driver in a speeding sedan. Faster than you can say “family,” she guns the engine and does some serious high-velocity traffic weaving that would impress even Dom Toretto. Even better is her choice of driving music, a faux-funky rock song called “The Wolf,” which boast howlingly hilarious lyrics like, “I wanna jack it, smack it/ You know the s*** that turns you on?”

No one knows what Christian does all day

As the head of a multinational corporation like Grey House, one would assume that Christian has to keep a fairly busy work schedule. But the movies have never paid much attention to his business activities. (Personally, we like to imagine that he borrows his business strategy from Unikitty.) So when Christian’s personal architect, Gia, admiringly tells him, “I love what you’re doing in Africa,” he takes it in stride without any elaboration for Ana or us in the audience. Is he actually doing something in Africa? Who knows! Not Christian, that’s for sure.

Gettin’ dairy with it

Here’s the most provocative, and funniest, thing about the Fifty Shades movies: while the books and ads tease transgressive eroticism, the films themselves present Ana and Christian as just another ordinary, slightly boring couple for whom even the boldest BDSM play inevitably becomes routine. (This knowing normalization of S&M feels like a pointed dig at the hype surrounding the larger Fifty Shades phenomenon.) Johnson and Dornan mostly go through the motions in Freed‘s copious sex scenes, with one notable exception: a late-night kitchen encounter where ice cream is their sex toy of choice rather than anything from the tricked-out Red Room. This couple has never seemed happier or more at ease than when they’re spreading the dairy product on each others‘ limbs.

Fifty Shades Freed is playing in theaters now.

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