There was a time when Sacha Baron Cohen was a comedic force to be reckoned with. When he unleashed his Kazakh journalist Borat and wannabe-gangster Ali G on the unsuspecting public, the world watched and laughed. It was hilarious watching normal people trying to deal with these quirky characters. But in 2009, things went downhill. Sacha finished his real-world interaction comedies with the awful Brüno, before moving into straight-up comedy films. 2012 brought The Dictator, which we can all admit was a bit shit. And now, in 2016, we have Grimsby.
Grimsby, which is out now on DVD & Blu-ray, does nothing to try and salvage Sacha Baron Cohen’s once legendary status. He plays Nobby Butcher, an alcoholic football hooligan living in Grimsby with his wife Dawn (Rebel Wilson) and their 11 children. Despite being separated from his brother Sebastian for 28 years, he’s never given up hope of finding him. Now, in 2016, he’s found him! But there’s a small problem. Sebastian (Mark Strong) is one of MI6’s top agents. Nobby reconnects with him and accidentally compromises Sebastian’s current mission, causing the death of an important public figure and unintentionally framing Sebastian for the murder. The pair must go on the run and work together to survive. Kinda like every buddy movie ever.
Where do I start with this…First of all, I’m a big fan of Mark Strong. I have absolutely no idea why he’s here. Are times tough? In Grimsby, we’re supposed to watch in delight as Nobby and Sebastian hide inside an elephant’s vagina just as she engages in an ‘elephant bukkake party’, getting themselves utterly drenched in, ahem, the white stuff. And of course, as if that wasn’t enough, we see the elephant’s penis ramming into their faces. Presumably utterly hilarious if you’re 12 years old, this takes juvenile humour to new lows. There’s a lot more like this. There’s jokes about shit, there’s jokes about Nobby sucking poison out of Sebastian’s balls, there’s jokes about Daniel Radcliffe and Donald Trump getting AIDs, and there’s of course a joke where Nobby puts his finger through a cardboard cut-out of a black child to simulate the child’s penis - which subsequently gets stuck and he must spit on it and rub it to try and get it out. Hilarious…I know, I should’ve expected this, this is what you get from a Sacha Baron Cohen film.
Ian McShane lets himself down too by showing his face in this film. You expect this childish shit from Sacha Baron Cohen now, but McShane? You’re Al Swearengen. And you were that guy in Game of Thrones for a few minutes. Get your head in the game and stay out of these stupid films! Ugh…So, “tell me more about the plot” you say. Alright, if that’s what you want. But if you want to save some time, I can just summarise now – Grimsby is shit. Don’t watch it. Still here? Let’s continue then…Despite being marketed as ‘something new’ and ‘a fresh take on the buddy film’, Grimsby is effectively a British equivalent of Spy – a bumbling fool with a heart-of-gold must go on a mission to save the world. The plot is a predictable spy yarn, but the action sequences are actually pretty solid – director Louis Leterrier is the same man behind the Transporter films. Cohen said this was important from the beginning – the film must be a serious straight-up spy film all around Nobby, rather than have a daft spoofy plot or silly action. This isn’t a spy spoof with a silly hero, this is basically just dropping a football hooligan right into Spectre and seeing what happens. But this clever delivery is nowhere near enough to save it.
Grimsby isn’t all bad…There’s a solid 1-2% of it that’s mildly entertaining. Some of the simpler jokes get smirks, and you can’t fault the well-observed hooligan characters. We all knows people like the ones portrayed in this film, and if you’re British, chances are you’ve got a little bit of Nobby in you. Despite being offensive to the town of Grimsby itself and its people, Grimsby is one of the most accurate portrayals of British life in years. Sadly, we’re not like Downton Abbey any more. The majority of us are drunken football fans who will happily kick the balls of a dead henchman and say “fookin’ twat”. And any film that loudly announces “it is scum who have kept the Fast & Furious franchise alive” deserves at least 1 star, doesn’t it? It’s just a shame that every time Grimsby almost makes you laugh, it lets itself down by covering you in elephant jizz and shit. Grimsby is offensively bad, irritatingly childish, painfully unfunny and instantly forgettable.
Grimsby could’ve been good. Maybe. In a parallel universe where bad jokes are funny. But unfortunately, in this universe, Grimsby is shit. 1/5.
Grimsby at CeX
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