Grimsby (2016)

  • Time: 83 min
  • Genre: Action | Comedy
  • Director: Louis Leterrier
  • Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Penélope Cruz


MI6’s top assassin (Mark Strong) has a brother. Unfortunately for him, he’s an English football supporter (Sacha Baron Cohen) from the town of Grimsby. Nobby has everything a man from the poor English fishing town of Grimsby could want – 9 children and the most attractive girlfriend in northern England (Rebel Wilson). There’s only one thing missing in his life: his little brother, Sebastian. After they were adopted by different families as children, Nobby spent 28 years searching for him. Upon hearing of his location, Nobby sets off to reunite with his brother, unaware that not only is his brother an MI6 agent, but he’s just uncovered a plot that puts the world in danger. On the run and wrongfully accused, Sebastian realizes that if he is going to save the world, he will need the help of its biggest idiot.

3 reviews

  • James Bond could be described as the man of mystery, one with little words, suave, a womanizer and everything else your ideal spy would be considered. Now, what would you say if I told you that James Bond has a brother that is, lets say, an interesting individual as well? Would you be intrigued? Even if I told you that his brother is the polar opposite of our beloved spy? Well, that is exactly what The Brother Grimsby is all about and the film is as outlandish as any other Sacha Baron Cohen film.

    Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen), a sweet but dimwitted English football hooligan, reunites with his long-lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), a deadly MI6 agent, to prevent a massive global terror attack and prove that behind every great spy is an embarrassing sibling. Nobby has everything a man from Grimsby could want, including 11 children and the most gorgeous girlfriend in the northeast of England (Rebel Wilson). There’s only one thing missing: his little brother, Sebastian, who Nobby has spent 28 years searching for after they were separated as kids. Nobby sets off to reunite with Sebastian, unaware that not only is his brother MI6’s deadliest assassin, but he’s just uncovered plans for an imminent global terrorist attack. On the run and wrongfully accused, Sebastian realizes that if he is going to save the world, he will need the help of its biggest idiot.

    From Ali G to Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen’s characters and films usually have some sort of message to get across but they are usually lost behind the countless amount of juvenile tasteless jokes. The Brothers Grimsby does not pretend to be one of Sacha’s past films as there is absolutely no message behind this one. What we do get is a combination of shock level humor, genital jokes, fat jokes and of course, something about the Jews.

    One could consider The Brothers Grimsby the complete opposite of Kingsman: The Secret Service as both are spoofs of the spy genre and both include a strong performance from Mark Strong. The difference being that the latter actually attempted to honor the spy genre and the former just wanted to show us what a possible scenario would be like if James Bond indeed had a brother that was the complete opposite of the spy. What the two both have in common is that they were both able to accomplish their goals. Would Bond be in a situation in which our film’s spy was in due to his less-talented brother? I hope not but

    If you were looking for another satirical piece from Cohen then you would be disappointed. What we do get is a film that is part action, part comedy and part ridiculous but that part is always expected when Cohen is involved. Director Louis Letterier does a great job with pacing and taking advantage of the scenery he had to work with in South Africa. If you enjoy Cohen’s sense of humor then you wouldn’t have a problem with The Brothers Grimsby but it is no Borat and that is the Cohen we need.

  • What if James Bond had been born and stayed in a town like Grimsby where, according to Sacha Baron Cohen, boys grow up to be often overweight fish and chips-eating, pub-dwelling, soccer-loving hooligan breeders with dead end lives? That’s one of the many questions raised in Cohen’s spy action comedy, The Brothers Grimsby, but the most interesting one may be this: how about Mark Strong as the next James Bond?

    Strong has been a familiar face to American and British film, theater and television audiences for decades, a constantly reliable and often striking presence in films as diverse as Syriana and Kingsman: The Secret Service. Dashing and debonair, with silkily brooding good looks, a deftness for both drama and comedy, and a certain je ne sais quoi – all qualities that would make him a prime candidate to take on the mantle of 007. The Brothers Grimsby isn’t exactly the inadvertent audition tape that Layer Cake was for Strong’s longtime friend and current Bond, Daniel Craig, but there are moments where it’s all too easy to imagine Strong being given the license to kill. Besides, if Strong can withstand Cohen’s apparently limitless arsenal of body humour involving incestual fellatio, sexual assault by a herd of elephants, and an anal spin on Dr. Strangelove’s indelible image of Slim Pickens straddling a nuclear bomb, then he can surely survive the comparatively piddling dangers that befall Bond.

    A particularly raggedy affair, The Brothers Grimsby doesn’t so much set the table, plot-wise, as fling utensils in the air. Strong is super-spy Sebastian Grimsby, who finds himself on the wrong end of a manhunt after accidentally wounding a wheelchair-bound Jewish-Palestinian boy with AIDS and killing the leader of the World Health Organisation instead of taking out the assassin targeting actress and philanthropist Rhonda George (Penélope Cruz) during a charity event. The misfire was caused by Nobby (Cohen), who is ecstatic at being reunited with his beloved brother after 28 years and convinces the skeptical but desperate Sebastian to hide out in their hometown of Grimsby, a place that bills itself as the “Twin City to Chernobyl.”

    Once there, Sebastian finds himself dodging childhood memories, Nobby’s numerous and ridiculously named children, and various armed men out to eliminate him. One of the film’s most outrageous moments finds Sebastian ordering Nobby to suck the venom from the poisoned dart that just so happens to have pierced his scrotum. Strong’s superbly matter-of-fact delivery of “It was a trickle of pre-ejaculate at most” is a thing to be savoured, as is any scene where he and Cohen clash in an awkward yet balletic tangle of limbs.

    Lest you think that infecting Daniel Radcliffe and Donald Trump with AIDS or the brotherly oral sex is too ho-hum, then prepare yourself for the film’s pièce de résistance – the brothers hiding in an elephant’s vagina and being pummeled by one elephant penis after another. Cohen’s shock and appall humour has never been one for the faint of heart, and this startling set-piece is finds Cohen at the apex of uninhibited crassness.

    Neither Nobby nor The Brothers Grimsby ranks amongst Cohen’s best creations, but it’s certainly not without its hilarious moments. Director Louis Leterrier, better known for The Transporter and Now You See Me, keeps things moving at a brisk pace but perhaps the film could have used a breath here and there; as it is, it feels too frenzied and scattershot. There’s also a strong feeling that a great deal ended up on the cutting room floor as talented actors like Ian McShane, Rebel Wilson, Barkhad Abdi, and Gabourey Sidibe show up only to be disposed of minutes later. Even Isla Fisher, Cohen’s offscreen wife and a typically energetic presence, is surprisingly listless as this film’s Moneypenny.

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  • Sacha Baron Cohen is a great character actor but doesn’t quite pull off the full on Northerner, his accent drops at times, but for me that added more fun to the picture. Without spoiling the story, Nobby and Sebastian (guess which one Baron Cohen plays) are inseparable young brothers who get separated, one going to live in the middle class security of a London family and the elder being left behind in run down Grimsby ‘you probably don’t recognise it since it was gentrified’.

    The years roll on and the brothers are reunited in a great setup with some funny consequences. Mark Strong hams it up nicely as the super spy younger brother who’s reluctance to even admit that he could be related to Baron Cohen’s character has a some good moments of awkwardness. From the outset there are laughs aplenty but nothing that will stick like other characters that Baron Cohen has bought to life, however you do start to feel for his character as the movie progresses, to an albeit foreseeable ending.

    The Brothers Grimsby kept me watching to the end, Peter Baynham’s comedy writing skills are not in question here, it’s just that overall it left very little of an impression and is not a movie you will be still laughing about in 5 years time.

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