Fifty Shades of Grey movie: Why the only person you can watch it with is your baby

Who else do you want sitting next to you in the cinema during the endless sex scenes?

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The Independent Online

Fifty Shades of Grey opens in cinemas next week. As you might expect from an adaption of the most successful erotic novel of all time, a fifth of the movie’s 100-minute running time is given over to on screen sex, spread out over 12 glorious scenes. It probably wouldn’t be your immediate choice for your child’s first trip to the cinema, then.

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Yet this week, one of London’s most illustrious performing arts centres and cinemas, the Barbican, raised eyebrows after advertising a ‘parent and baby’ screening of the film. An advert for the event says it features “a daring affair which pushes the boundaries of pain and pleasure”.

The decision has been branded by some parenting groups as “inappropriate”, but the organisers at the Barbican insist that their audiences “generally want to be able to see the films that everyone is talking about”.

While I can’t deny that the idea of watching a bonkbuster surrounded by fellow mums and dads makes me cringe, there's nothing inherently wrong with it as long as you stick to the age limit. Parent and baby screenings generally stop at 12 months, an age where, frankly, they’re not plugged in to what’s on screen.

My daughter’s foray as cinematic connoisseur started early; and it wasn’t all Toy Story or Tangled. She didn’t watch TV until she was two – but I did take her to monthly ‘Big Scream’ cinema screenings, to mixed reviews from the six-month-old gurgling critic. She was far more interested in chewing her toys, snacks and her own feet to pay any attention at all to what was being played overhead.

Together, we watched We Bought a Zoo – a cloying account of British widower Benjamin Mee’s purchase of a failing menagerie. Each and every baby burst into tears the moment the lions roared, and cried all the more profusely through the unlikely Matt Damon-Scarlett Johansson love scenes.

Intrepidly, we embraced The Hunger Games: a post-apocalyptic dystopia, pitting boys and girls against each other in a desperate and bloodthirsty survival of the fittest – in other words, taking a small infant to the cinema. She was asleep for most of it.

Then, we tried Lincoln – an epic historical drama about the US president’s final four months. But baby had learned to crawl by then, and demonstrated her opinion of the film’s slow pace by repeatedly making for the exit. We didn’t even make it to the Thirteenth Amendment.

But being able to see the latest blockbusters, to feel connected to pop culture again, to socialise, even just making it out of the house – was a panacea to the stresses of looking after a small baby.

The atmosphere might be surreal, with blankets and buggies spread across the floor like the family camping field at Glastonbury, but for many, 'parent and baby' screenings can be a life line. And when it comes to Fifty Shades, one question springs to mind:  if you really want to watch it, who else can you go with?

Not with your mum, unless you have the rare kind of relationship where you can laugh about your latest leather paddle over breakfast. Your sibling? Same problem. Your…dad? Sorry, what? Your other half? Maybe – but it’s probably not one for a first date.

The obvious answer, if you’re female, might be with your girlfriends; and, sure enough, cinemas are already reporting that 80 per cent of audience ticket sales for the Valentine’s Day opening weekend have been block-booked by women. But if you can’t get out on a ‘girls’ night’ because you have a small baby, then there’s only one option left – and it’s to take them along.

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