In this corner, the heavyweight Cineplex champ “Fifty Shades of Grey”—bestselling soft porn about a naïve heroine and a tortured leading man who likes his women that way too. In this corner, OLD FASHIONED, in which two souls who are 50 shades of jaded try to build a love to last.

OLD FASHIONED is the story of a former frat boy and a free-spirited woman who together attempt the impossible: an “old-fashioned” courtship in contemporary America.

Writer/director Rik Swartzwelder asks an obvious question: “Why would a modestly budgeted romantic movie like OLD FASHIONED want to jump in the arena and go toe-to-toe in a David vs. Goliath standoff with a cultural juggernaut”?

“Well, honestly, because we believe it matters,” he answers. “And I gotta believe—I find it impossible not to believe—that deep down we want to celebrate something more than ‘Fifty Shades.’”

As with Christian Grey in “Fifty Shades,” OLD FASHIONED protagonist Clay Walsh packs a past. In contrast to Grey, however, Clay resists his friends’ cynicism and rejects the dead-end pain of standard dating. While Christian Grey leads Ana to the Red Room of Pain, Clay Walsh takes pains to avoid using Amber, whom he’s attracted to.

“When did treating women with respect become the joke?” Clay asks in the film. In an earlier scene he muses, “I don’t believe dating trains us to be good husbands and wives. It trains us to be skilled in the superficial.”

“‘Fifty Shades’ is short-term titillation and OLD FASHIONED offers a long-term alternative,” Producer Nathan Nazario explained. “Audiences want to hear that the best of the past is still possible—that a relationship can be the safe room.”

“Maybe it’s time for a line in the sand,” Swartzwelder said. “How much further can the envelope be pushed?  OLD FASHIONED raises questions worth asking from a cultural perspective. What is it that we genuinely aspire to, what is it we truly hope and long for?  For ourselves?  Our children?  Is it objectification?  Unbridled pursuit of our basest desires? Is that the legacy we want to create?  Is that the American dream?”

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