By Phillip Guy Ellis (Northampton, England)
Grimsby? Of course it’s funny! It’s a Sacha Baron Cohen movie.
I think it’s fair to say the snobby broadsheets were not that fair with this movie. They killed it in the multiplexes with their scathing reviews and for its $35 million budget it tanked with just $24 million back to date, mainly because they felt guilty over its portrayal of the British underclass, the same underclass the same middle-class will cross the street from with every opportunity. The town of Grimsby certainly wanted nothing to do with it and the film was shot mostly in Essex. After viewing the film, Grimsby, MP Austin Mitchell allegedly told star Sacha Baron Cohen to “go back to Kazakhstan and die”. Grimsby, somewhat ironically, doesn’t actually have a cinema of its own, so anyone wanting to watch the film had to travel to the multiplex in the adjoining town of Cleethorpes, perhaps proving the city does indeed have no culture and class.
When promoting the movie Sacha Baron Cohen, in full Noël Gallagher mock up, said of Grimsby: “…….It’s a lovely town in the North of England, which is twinned with the city of Chernobyl. I’m very proud of it – it was recently declared number three in the whole of Europe for childhood obesity and we just became the first town in England to achieve 100 per cent unemployment”.
The Americans had been stung and made to look mugs by SBC a few times over the years with his stuff and rumored to have had Grimsby’s promotion ‘buried’ so not to upset the Republican candidate Donald J. Trump due to a huge joke in the movie about him near the end. The studio feared being sued by the well-known litigious billionaire. He did not sue. I hope he laughed with the rest of us who are prepared to admit that. This is hilarious.
SBCs concept was what if James Bond had a northern idiot brother, a great comic idea for the warped mind of Cohen to expand on with as much puerile silly outrageous fun as possible. Director Louis Leterrier, a young French chap whose films include the first two Transporter films, Unleashed (2005), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Clash of the Titans (2010) and Now You See Me (2013), was tasked with adding big action to the comedy and boy is this movie a whole lot better than you have been told. You have to see it.
• Sacha Baron Cohen as Nobby Butcher
• Mark Strong as Sebastian Graves
• Isla Fisher as Jodie Figgs
• Rebel Wilson as Dawn Grobham
• Penélope Cruz as Rhonda George
• Gabourey Sidibe as Banu, a South African hotel maid
• Annabelle Wallis as Lina Smit
• David Harewood as Black Gareth
• John Thomson as Bob Tolliver
• Ricky Tomlinson as Paedo Pete
• Johnny Vegas as Milky Pimms
• Scott Adkins as Pavel Lukashenko
• Sam Hazeldine as Chilcott
• Barkhad Abdi as Tabansi Nyagura
• Tamsin Egerton as Carla Barnes
• Ian McShane as MI6 Spy Boss
“Nobby” Butcher (SBC) has been separated from his little brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) for 28 years. He carries a torch for him and keeps his room in the old family home unchanged waiting for his return. Nobby is now a Special Brew swigging unemployed lout living with wife Dawn (Rebel Wilson) and 11 children on a sink estate in Grimsby.
Down in London and Sebastian (now Sebastian Graves) has become one of MI6’s top secret agents. On a mission he has just come into information regarding philanthropist Rhonda George (Penelope Cruz), who is hosting a benefit called WorldCure and is a potential target for assassination, and he assigned to protect her from the shadows.
Somehow one of Nobby’s friends has finally located his long lost brother and Nobby decides to go say hi in his England shirt at the swanky tuxedo do, bumbling the operation to the point where Sebastian shoots the wrong person and the pair soon on the run from the British Secret service who think Sebastian has been turned and MI6 boss Ian McShane ordering them both to be terminated.
Sebastian does have one friend left, MI6 handler Jodie Figgs (Isla Fisher, SBC wife in real life and their fifth film together), who tells him top assassin Pavel Lukashenko (Scott Adkins) was the intended shooter at WorldCure and if you take him out you can clear your name. Nobby suggests they lay low in Grimbsy, the last place MI6 would look. So off they go but word is soon out Nobby’s brother is ‘Britain’s number one spy’ and banner proclaiming exactly that above the pub the brothers meet in to lay low. It doesn’t take long for MI6 to track them down as the pub is surrounded by men in black with guns. But this is rough estate in Grimsby and everyone is armed with something.
I must admit I went into this believing it might well be Cohen’s worse film yet as he increasingly chases the lowest common denominator to get more punters through the door. The sharp and clever in your face side Cohen likewise people loved in Borat and Bruno had gone by his next film, The Dictator, and nowhere to be seen in Grimsby. I think SBC got distracted by Hollywood and his other co-starring movies like Talladega Nights and Hugo as it was less work for a lot more money and so down time to enjoy his fame. I think losing that smart side to his comedy is what really upset the middle-class film hacks….he was with us and now he is not type thing… But SBC is a very funny and smart guy whatever he does and he was never going to do that awful puerile humor the Americans do in stuff like American Pie. He nails it here and very much one of those films people refuse to say they have seen but secretly laughed all the way through, like enjoying Bernard Manning, for instance.
Grimsby, of course, is shameless send up of the underclass but taboo is always funny. Bruno is a hilarious send up of the vacuous and pretentious fashion industry and so why not send up underclass culture and football hooliganism that always embarrass the country? These guys can defend themselves. They use their fists, remember. The British underclass really is like this and we all hate them and so why not belittle them in comedy? Don’t recall The Guardian ever having a problem with the C4TV show Shameless?
To explain just how gross-out funny this is they used about fourteen ton of fast food white sauce as animal semen in the film, toilet humor taken to new levels. If you have seen the film you are now smiling a lot over that elephant scene and if you haven’t, well, you will be rolling around on the floor for that bit. How the film got away with a 15 certificate is beyond me. With a run time of 83 minutes it clearly suffered chainsaw cuts because SBC pushed it and the American censors would have steam coming out of their ears watching this. Don’t believe the prudery critics and stick it on.
IMDb.com – 6.2/10.0 (32,324votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 37% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 44% critic’s approval
Village Voice – ‘Mostly, The Brothers Grimsby simply wants to make you laugh. And it will’
The Mail on Sunday – ‘The shaming truth is that I was amused; so amused that on several occasions I had to wipe tears of laughter from my eyes. The fact that I knew deep down that I really shouldn’t be laughing at all just made it funnier’.
Entertainment Weekly – ‘God help me, I laughed’.
The Mail – ‘The Brothers Grimsby contains some of the most lowbrow humor imaginable, and it’s usually outrageous fun’.
Chicago Reader – ‘Cohen, brilliant in his craftier and more avant-garde shock-humor roles, is too irritating to make this character likable, much less lovable as the story demands’.
The New Republic – ‘A couple of funny scenes, but it’s amazing how quickly Sasha Baron Cohen’s comedy has grown safe and stale’.
Toronto Times – ‘His obsession with anal cavities and what goes in and comes out of them suggest Cohen is auditioning to be the after-dinner amusement at a proctologists’ convention’.
LA Times – ‘It’s not unfunny in spots, but it huffs and puffs (among other bodily functions) more often than it splits the sides’.
Rating: 4/5BEST QUOTES