The Brothers Grim
Sacha Baron Cohen made a name for himself as Ali G. He was ferociously clever whilst sounding incredibly stupid. This meant he managed to do what other interviewees could not; he made unsuspecting politicians drop their guard and say what they really thought of youth culture and policy making.
Amazingly he reproduced this success with Borat; another heavily stereotyped creation who drew out xenophobic ire and mirth in equal measure of those he came into contact with. Cohen also had lesser success with Bruno but followed the theme of provoking peoples inert prejudices through ever increasing shock tactics.
Grimsby is another iteration of Cohen-ness. It features another highly stereotyped and shocking character. Given his career trajectory, this isn’t surprising, just don’t expect any pseudo-real life comedy like Borat as Grimsby is firmly planted in fiction.
Nobby (Cohen) is a beer swilling football lad living in a poor part of Grimsby; a rather undesirable town in central England. He is looking for his long lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) who just happens to be a super spy. Paths inevitably cross and Nobby becomes entwined with the spy game.
What surprised me about this film was how good the action scenes were even if they were few and far between. The first scene in particular – all shot in first person – was amazing with Sebastian kicking people downstairs and shooting them in mid air.
I would have liked to see more of this but I guess I’ll have to wait for Hardcore Henry – trailer can be found here.
Nobby, as a character, isn’t as good. This is definitely one of Cohen’s least nuanced characters and feels almost cheap to stereotype working class people as lazy football lads with 11 kids and sofas on their driveway.
There aren’t many attempts to redeem this stereotype but at least the humour isn’t meant to be at the expense of working class nor at Grimsby itself because that would definitely be cheap.
Instead Cohen tries to out-gross himself and utilises situational comedy to flesh out Nobby as a a bit of character.
Now, if your mum said “Oh, he’s a bit of a character” she probably means he wears sandals with socks, shouts poetry when drunk and once went to a fancy dress party as a ballerina. What she wouldn’t expect is the kind of grim humour that is on show here.
Without wanting to give anything away you can expect testicles, Donald Trump (I know; pretty much the same thing, right?!), a face full of pubes and some good old fashioned lols regarding AIDS.
That all pales in comparison to one specific encounter with elephants. It’s actually a cleverly worked joke if you pay attention before it turns horrific. The few moments that I caught my breath between laughing were soon taken over by the vomit that I was projecting over the people in the next 3 rows. It’s a scene that, ironically, I will never forget.
Outside of these moments there will undoubtedly be parts of the humour that will be lost on those outside the UK, particularly with stereotypes of council estate life complete with some of the hilariously abusive kids.
Grimsby is at times hilarious and for the most part a pretty entertaining watch but it’s not something that will appeal to everyone and in fact is something that might not make complete sense to unless you are in the UK. However, if you like gross humour then don’t be a dumbo: check it out.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Action scenes
+ Elephants. Never forget
+ Abusive kids
– Cohen’s least clever character
– Really gross
– Non-Brits will miss part of the humour