Take a Drink: when Nobby takes a drink
Take a Drink: for every onscreen death
Take a Drink: for casual male nudity and make it a double for the inevitable gay panic cliché
Do a Shot: for bodily fluid humor
Take a Drink: for first-person shooter cam, cause you ain’t dizzy enough as it is
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a blue-collar Futbol Hooligan from the seaport town of Grimsby, England. His life is changed forever when he learns his long-lost brother Sebastian was found, and so he sets out to find him. As it turns out, Sebastian (Mark Strong) is a high-class superspy the likes of James Bond, and Nobby’s intrusion into his life disrupts his work long enough to result in the death of the World Health Organization chairman and the near-fatal wounding of a wheelchair-bound Palestinian/Israeli AIDs patient, among other collateral damage. Due to the sudden involvement in each other’s lives, the two find themselves working together to get to the bottom of the assassination, and to find out just what the killers were planning.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong do have an unmistakable comedic chemistry together, the classic “Straight man and the Moron” role. If this were the 1930s this would be Laurel & Hardy. The film manages some considerable laughs, particularly when it focuses on Nobby’s blue-collar upbringing. Nobby is not the typical moronic character, in that he actually has managed to scrape together a sort of normal life without his smarter brother. Granted, part of it comes from gaming the Welfare system and working in a fish factory. Some good fish out of water humor is had by the blending of Nobby and Sebastian’s worlds, and the film also features some shocking comedic set-pieces that really have to be seen to be believed. Not the kind of joke that’ll hold up for long on re-watching, but for a matinee priced ticket, it may just be worth your time.
The film features a cast with actors as varied as Ian McShane, Rebel Wilson, and even Barkhad Abdi (who you may remember from Captain Phillips). Each actor gets roles with very little to do, and they do their best within them, but one can’t help but wish the film would have taken a bit more time with it’s talent. The film clocks in at a brisk 85 minutes.
As a genre parody a bit more time could have been taken expanding these actors’ roles. In addition, the film only briefly touches on Nobby’s relationship to the people of Grimsby, and could have used a little more backstory.
Director Louis Leterrier and his editors attempt to find an even blend of action movie edits and comedic timing, but more often than not the blend doesn’t quite hit the mark. The film opens with a super-fast edited sequence inspired by first person shooter video games, presumably to set up Sebastian’s prowess as a secret agent. But the sequence is nauseating to watch and moves so fast that it is impossible to follow the action.
That bodes well for Hardcore Henry…
The film is full of weird edits that are presumably meant to be funny, such as a slow-motion sequence that focuses on Nobby’s facial reaction upon being told his brother was found. The film uses a few too many of these, and they never quite hit with the comedic timing they should.
If you didn’t think Sacha Cohen has gone far enough with gross-out humor, The Brothers Grimsby may just put you over the edge. The film is full of bodily fluid jokes, most notably a scene that modifies the classic “suck out the poison” movie trope, when Sebastian takes a dart to the testicle, and also an extended scene involving an elephant’s most nether of regions. While the initial shock may get some laughs, it seems less like setup to comedic hijinks and feels more like Cohen just trying to top himself for grossness. Sacha Cohen’s humor increasingly feels like an out of control version of the creepy kid who would mix all his food together into his thermos at the lunch table and then get people to dare him to drink it.
While The Brothers Grimsby managed to make me laugh more often than not, it also stretched the jokes to the breaking point in the name of shock. Once you’ve seen it you’ll likely not find yourself needing to rewatch anytime soon.