Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Isla Fischer, Rebel Wilson
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…a lot of fun in its determinedly tasteless way.
This isn’t one of Sacha Baron Cohen’s more ambitious projects, but it is one of his (intermittently) funniest. There’s very little political satire or iconoclasm, though, to be fair, the opportunity for that diminished once he became a known public figure with Borat and Bruno, and thus incapable of such effective disguise.
In Grimsby, Baron Cohen plays Carl “Nobby” Butcher, a father of nine, a chronic boozer, and a somehow quite likeable football hooligan. Nobby lives in the godforsaken northern fishing town of Grimsby (“Twin City To Chernobyl”), and has not seen his beloved younger brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong), for 28 years. Sebastian, for his part, has become a ruthlessly efficient assassin in MI6’s Black Ops division, and the scene that first shows him in full James Bond mode is a manic exercise in visual excess and breathless pace. Events conspire, largely through a horrific debacle at a London charity summit, to reunite the two siblings and place them in various very dangerous situations.
The action (and there’s rather a lot of it, courtesy of genre specialist, Louis Leterrier, who has helmed the likes of The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk, Clash Of The Titans, and Now You See Me) unfolds not only in England, but also in South Africa and Chile. The slapstick elements are predictably tedious, but some of the sick jokes are funny…and surely few jokes could “out-sick” the likes of, “I’m gettin’ stiffer than a pedo at Legoland.” AIDS and blocked toilets are grist for the comic mill here too, and on a more subtle but equally contentious level, so are working class stereotypes. Grimsby is a lot of fun in its determinedly tasteless way. And it’s safe to say that you’ll never forget what will no doubt be referred to from now on as The Elephant Scene…as much as you might wish to.