I probably am not the biggest fan of Sascha Baron Cohen. Sorry, but that is true. His brand of comedy is momentarily funny in bits, but gets old VERY fast. The Brothers Grimsby features Cohen as Nobby, a (sort of) good hearted bloke from the bad side of London called Grimsby. He is a lazy, vulgar, drunken slob whose litter of kids is more for the money he and his wife, Dawn (Rebel Wilson) can bilk the British government out of than anything. He loves them, for sure, but knows what the in’s and out’s are to avoid work so he can spend most of his time at the local watering hole to watch English football. He has one brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong) who is the polar opposite of Nobby. Sebastian is an MI6 elite agent for England who was separated when they were young. Determined for a reunion between the two, Nobby still keeps their boyhood bedroom complete with bunk beds and posters of “Guys Sebastian were sure loved the ladies like George Michael and Elton John and guys who loved the ladies too much, like Bill Cosby”. It is a clever gag and it works.
Circumstances present themselves so that Nobby can actually see Sebastian again and they can reunite as brothers. The problem is, it is when Sebastian is on an assignment and the assignment goes horribly wrong with some very funny results. The remainder of the film is a lightening paced buddy action film that takes a lot of swings for the bleachers, works hard for your laughs and surprisingly does what it sets out to do. Is this a good film? No. But it knows what it wants to do and although some of the material falls short and some of the gags are not going to be funny to some, I have to admit I laughed a lot more than I thought I was going to.
One of the things that works for The Brothers Grimsby is that it features Cohen as a toned down character, whereas, some of his previous films he was so over the top (intentionally) that it grew stale, for me, in quick time. Yes, he is supposed to be satirical but it came across as more of shock for the sake of shocking without much commentary behind it. This kind of comedy, however, DOES work in The Brothers Grimsby. There is gag after gag that hit you a mile a minute and a lot of them are clever and funny. It is gross out humor, for sure, but I must say it is rather inspired comedy. Cohen and Strong work well together and Cohen’s script written by Cohen, Phil Johnston and Peter Baynham is thoughtful enough to focus on the brothers and their relationship as family so they are interesting enough to invest our time into. It is nothing earth shattering, but I believed their relationship as brothers.
The action is competent enough with shootouts, car chases and lots of hand to hand combat, sometimes with very comedic results. But the spy story has been done to death and nothing new is added to that element, here. You don’t really need it, though. Louise Leterrier, who is no stranger to action films with The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk (2008), Now You See Me and Unleashed with Jet Li on his resume, keeps the action interesting enough to keep the film energized. But, this is Cohen and Strong’s show and the two of them carry this film to the end. The Brothers Grimsby pushes the envelope of every taboo it can with its rather short 85 minute run time and that is what I appreciated about the film. It is a brazenly and gleefully offensive film that does not care who it insults or makes fun of. It is ridiculous, silly, cartoonish and has some very big laughs. Some of the gross out is not for everybody, the film looses its footing in spots and some of the humor does not work, but overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I DID laugh with The Brothers Grimsby. You can’t ask for much more than that.
The Brothers Grimsby – *** out of 5
The Brothers Grimsby – Rated R for adult language, nudity, profanity, sexual innuendo and content, violence and gross out humor
The Brothers Grimsby – Run Time is 85 minutes
The Brothers Grimsby is now available on DVD and On Demand