Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Ian McShane, Isla Fisher, Gabourey Sidibe, and Penélope Cruz
Running Time: 83 minutes
Since unleashing his unique brand of satirical silliness onto the world with his genius Ali G interviews on the 11 O’ CLOCK SHOW, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has had more lows than highs. While character spinoff BORAT proved to be a hysterical international hit where even the Kazakhstan people got the joke, Cohen’s not been so successful when leading other comedic endeavours. A few titters here and there but there’s no doubt BRUNO and THE DICTATOR were not nearly as memorable.
And so were off to GRIMBSY for Cohen’s latest outrageous vehicle, and while the controversy this time surrounds digs at the population of Northern England (of which I’m one), the story isn’t quite as funny as it thinks it is, and like those latter two efforts, makes things painful for the most part as the plot unravels even before a ball(sack) is kicked.
Mark Strong’s Sebastian Graves is a ruthlessly efficient MI6 agent, and when we’re dropped into the middle of his latest mission – preventing a massive global terror attack – he suddenly finds himself reunited with his long-lost brother Nobby (Cohen).
Here’s where the main problem lies; despite Nobby being a surprisingly sweet family man, and even knowing the film’s slapstick approach with him being the butt of most jokes, those early strands in setting up this unlikely meeting is cobbled together at a frantic pace that renders the rest of the action useless. No believable core is built between the brothers means there is little connection for the audience to make, while even the gross-out set-pieces can’t cover the contrivance that this is just another vanity project for Cohen.
That’s not to say GRIMSBY is utterly terrible. Strong’s attempts at keeping a straight face during some truly testing times for his character, brushing them off as par for the course, give him and us the funniest moments of the film. It’s just a shame these are few and far between – and usually followed up with a predictable cum, fart or dick joke.
There is no denying director Louis Leterrier has an eye for action, and certainly his career would suggest this, but outside of the first-person attack by Strong (as teased in the trailer) there is little else worthy of note in GRIMSBY. He still comes nowhere close to matching the fun of the first TRANSPORTER film, and this being an action-comedy (or supposed to be), he loses focus and fails to get the balance right when playing around with both genres.
At times absolutely absurd, often offensive and really ridiculous, GRIMSBY can’t hold it all together to deliver the goods consistently.
GRIMSBY is set for UK cinemas February 24, and the US March 11.