The Brothers Grimsby (aka Grimsby), 2016.
Directed by Louis Leterrier.
Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Penélope Cruz, Isla Fisher, Gabourey Sidibe, Scott Adkins, Barkhad Abdi, Annabelle Wallis, and Ian McShane.
A football hooligan tracks down his long-lost brother, a spy for MI6, and they end up on the run from a terrorist organisation.
There are some movies you watch and have absolutely no idea where to even begin assessing. The Brothers Grimsby is definitely one of those flicks; an extreme gross-out comedy putting things on-screen that no one ever needed to see (some of it is so disgusting I will probably never watch the movie again, even though I laughed quite a bit and liked it), but at the end of the day, there is a method to this madness. This isn’t like a modern Adam Sandler comedy where the shock value seems uninspired and lazy, but rather a movie with some genuinely imaginative nauseating gags worthy of applause while trying to hold down the popcorn in your stomach.
On the other hand, it also exemplifies quite a bit that is wrong with modern-day comedies. Take Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls for example, it’s not the greatest sequel but there is a funny, simple, iconic bit where Jim Carrey crawls up the ass of a clearly animatronic rhinoceros. This is the year 2016 though, meaning that movies in general have to go bigger and bolder, which apparently means seeing (I shit you not, this is an actual scene in the movie), Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong crawling inside the vagina of an elephant to escape generic bad guys, while about 30 male elephants then proceed to run a train on the female, complete with warm, white elephant cum spraying, and large throbbing dicks smacking them around.
I don’t know if I will ever write a more absurd sentence in my entire movie critiquing career. It’s a funny scene though, even if it does feel that far too extreme measures are being taken to employ a rise out of audiences nowadays. I’m still not sure whether to call the scene genuinely creative or if Sacha Baron Cohen just one day woke up and decided he was going to one-up (in this case 20-up) Jim Carrey.
Penis gags and other pieces of visual graphic nudity are again nothing new to modern comedies; most unfortunately never get it right. The Brothers Grimsby has so many that I lost count, but the important part was that it was funny more often than not, albeit too reliant overall on pushing the envelope. Some just don’t land. The entire movie is actually filled with hit or miss jokes, with most surprisingly being brilliant, relevant pop culture references. At a lean 83 minutes, who the hell knows what was actually cut from this movie, because with a running time that short, you know some of the juvenile content (good and bad) was compromised by the party-poopers known as the MPAA.
The Brothers Grimsby is also shockingly light on plot, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The globetrotting, spy aspect of the movie keeps the pace lightning quick, going from one disgusting joke to the next, but you can’t help but wish the movie didn’t spring into action right away, instead actually spending time to show us more about Nobby’s (Sacha Baron Cohen) wife and family. Some of the funniest lines in the movie come from his foul-mouthed, disastrously raised, white trash children. Instead, we get a bunch of flashbacks about the two brothers as young lads (Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong) that feel out-of-place and awkward. Every time one comes up it’s surprisingly annoying and disruptive to the amount of fun there is to be had within The Brothers Grimsby.
By the way, the quick bursts of action are typically staged oddly from a first-person perspective, except it’s very messy and contains none of the grace that an upcoming release like Hardcore Henry seems to have. Combat isn’t the movie’s strongest aspect, but it certainly isn’t the weakest.
Towards the end, the script tries to make some thematic message about the importance of family, and the contributions working-class citizens make to the world, but all of it is completely white noise to the onslaught of visual dick gags and Sacha Baron Cohen shoving fireworks up his ass. In the end, it’s most definitely a good thing that the movie doesn’t get too serious; it is so absolutely ludicrous that there is nothing important to take away. There is basically no story, as the brothers just get involved in one facepalm worthy situation after another.
There’s a government agent monitor type character played by Ian McShane of Deadwood fame, who constantly elicits pur shock at some of the things he sees while supervising the duo. His reactions couldn’t be any more appropriate, and are likely what the audience will do for 83 minutes. The Brothers Grimsby contains some of the most lowbrow humor imaginable, and it’s usually outrageous fun. You could do a lot worse regarding R-rated modern comedies; at least this one tries to be creative while attempting to make you hurl up puke.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★