The Brothers Grimsby: A Genuine Attempt at Comedy

The Brothers Grimsby is the latest Sasha Baron Cohen comedy directed by Louis Leterrier, whose previous works are Now You See Me and Clash of the Titans. Personally, I am a big fan of Cohen’s character work. From his early days as Ali G to the explosive popularity of Borat, to even his less liked Bruno, I always found his commitment level to these characters to be truly impressive. So naturally going into this movie that written and starring him, I had high expectations even despite the lackluster trailer. The Brothers Grimsby, tells the story of  Nobby, a dimwitted man, discovers his brother, Sebastian, after 28 years only to find out that his little brother is an M16 agent causing shenanigans to ensue.

After walking out of this movie, in short, I was genuinely impressed with the amount of effort this film put into making me laugh. Would I say this a good movie? No. However, if you set your exceptions relatively low or ever catch this film on cable and crack a cold one with your buddies, then you will have a good time.

As a stand-alone action movie, it had its moments. As a comedy, there were some laughs. As an action-comedy, it just didn't seem to work that well.

This movie is all about the shock value, as most of Cohen’s films are, so that isn’t what bothered me. I understood what I was getting into. It was just the shock they went for was too over the top. When there was a joke about poop, sex, or disease, they went for it. They went for it hard and beat that horse until it was dead in the ground. There was no substance or commentary behind the humor. Along with that Cohen as Nobby was just plain unconvincing. He just didn’t seem to lose himself as he has in previous roles. This comic creation, with a cheap wig and poor accent, was one I just couldn’t buy.

Parts of this movie I did find enjoyable. For instance, the chemistry, between Mark Strong and Sasha Baron Cohen was entertaining to watch. Mark Strong’s straight face to the increasingly gross-out humor, was one of the funniest bits to watch. No pun intended, but he gave a strong performance that overshadowed Cohen’s. The infamous elephant scene that has been making its rounds on the internet, was definitely a first I have seen in my nearly 20 years of watching movies. Is it something I ever care to see again? Absolutely not, but I will admit it was an experience. As for the action, that was well done too. The opening scene felt like I was watching a video game on the hardest level. There was an incredible amount of effort put into entertaining the audience, none of this was cheaply made. With that, I found that despite my disappointment, this movie had an odd sense of charm to it in the fact they did try to get you to laugh.

I left the theatre feeling underwhelmed. You should be in no rush to see The Brother Grimsby, which seems to be the opinion of many since it came in 8th pace for its opening weekend. This film just felt as if a someone dropped their pants in front of me and shook their bare ass to try and get me to laugh. It was a nice try, but not my sense of humor.

Shannon McHugh
shannon@titlerace.com