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Grimsby Review


So, Sacha Baron Cohen is back on the big screen doing what Sacha Baron Cohen does best. The Cambridge educated comedian has made a nice living for himself, playing such over the top, borderline racist and homophobic caricatures that pushed the comedy envelope to such an extent that he became a household name. For Grimsby, he sets his sights on the East Midlands playing Nobby Butcher, a beer swilling football fanatic from a nightmare version of the titular town, but as crude and vile (which can translate to crowd pleasing for his fans) the places Cohen takes the character, he comes nowhere close to emulating the success of the likes of Ali G, Borat, or even General Aladeen.

When he is not watching football, fathering nine kids, or sticking fireworks up his arse, Nobby has spent the last 28 years of his life searching for his long lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), who it turns out has become a suave super spy after leaving the foster home the two lived in as children. Finally finding Sebastian in London, Nobby inadvertently puts him on MI6’s kill list, forcing the two to team up and stop a global crime syndicate from destroying the world.

With Now You See Me director Louis Leterrier at the helm, Grimsby does make a good stab at being a spy parody (the Call of Duty-esque opening credits are wonderful), but falls flat on its face somewhere around the second act. Y’see, the pacing is all wrong. Within ten minutes, Nobby and Sebastian are thrown together, with their back story teased out through some badly thought out flashbacks. The story then just lurches from scene to scene with the audience not really sure what is going on. Come to think of it, maybe the screenwriters (Cohen, Phil Johnston, and Peter Baynham) didn’t know what is going on as the narrative feels like an afterthought. What is the bad guy’s plot? Some guff about a virus that is introduced late in the game and never really explained fully. Who is the actual bad guy? The person you think it is from the beginning, but isn’t revealed as such till twenty minutes before the end credits, and it happens with no fanfare or attempt to make it a twist. The cast do make the most out of what they have, with Cohen and Strong making for an oddly effective double act.

There is always the sense that there is something missing from Grimsby, that the key moment to tie the scene together was left on the cutting room floor. With the narrative such a shambles, Grimsby falls back on its jokes to save it, and unfortunately, the vast number there are miss than more than hit. The walking Midlands stereotype that is Nobby Butcher (he lets his children watch violent and offensive t.v., a quiet night in the pub involves drinking the whole bar) does the movie no favours, and it’s only when the movie gets away from this and just doubles down on the most revolting jokes it has in its arsenal that the humour shines through. Nobby forced to suck poison out of Sebastian’s scrotum will raise the odd titter and chuckle, while the sight of Mark Strong getting rammed in the face by an elephant’s penis will have you guffawing despite yourself. Oh, and a word of advice to Cohen, Johnston, and Baynham, a running gag about celebrities ingesting AIDs infected blood is not funny, and never will be.

A misjudged send up of the spy genre that falls apart quite early on, some supremely gross out gags save Grimsby from being a total mess. Barely.


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The Movie Bit: Grimsby Review
Grimsby Review
The Movie Bit
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