By Adam Ray Palmer
Today we have another comedy review following on from the debacle that was Zoolander 2. This time around it's the turn of the Brits in Sacha Baron Cohen’s Grimsby.
The film is also stars his wife Isla Fischer, British hard man Mark Strong and Aussie comedy star Rebel Wilson.
Two things were present in my mind when I entered the theatre to see this film, and neither were positive…
Firstly, the last time I was in a cinema to see a Sacha Baron Cohen film was for The Dictator, and we all know how that film turned out. Secondly, the last ‘comedy’ film I paid to see was ‘Snoozelander 2’ – so precedents were set for me. However, the good news is, it’s not as bad as either of the before mentioned.
Grimsby stars Cohen and Strong as two dysfunctional siblings. After they were adopted by different families as children, Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) spent 28 years searching for his brother Sebastian (Mark Strong). Upon hearing of Seb’s 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. So there’s one thing for it, the both of them must of course save the world, obviously.
Sacha has previously found fame by playing out prejudices in living form including notable characters such as Ali G, Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev and the Austrian fashion reporter Bruno Gehard. His interactions with the public and celebrities were genius but his recognition around the world has had to put a halt on these types of films. Due to his now found fame, he has to rely on his writing and this is where Sacha hits a snag. He just isn’t that great in the scripted comedy department.
Granted, Grimsby is better than The Dictator but as there are a few more laughs over the 90 minute feature but the comedy is still unoriginal. It’s like The Inbetweeners Movie took crack. It’s crude, grotesque and immature. There is one scene where Mark Strong and Cohen are hiding inside an elephant’s private parts as a fellow male elephant enters the private region with his oversized penis. What happens next is eye opening and vulgar, but quite amusing too. It just makes you think what crossed Sacha's mind when writing that sequence?
The juvenile humour isn’t the worst thing about this film though; it’s the confusion of where to position this movie that's the problem. It constantly switches between comedy sequences and slick-paced action scenes that just don’t add up to what I think Sacha was aiming for. I believe he is trying to create a ‘working-class scum’ (as he puts it) type of James Bond flick poking fun at the middle-class and political issues but it just comes across as a piss-poor Paul Blart sequel with ridiculously over-sexual scenes.
Mark Strong saves the film from being a total disaster and you can actually tell he would be a great anchor to an all-action film. The scenes where you look through his eyes as he whipping the villains into shape looked great on the big screen. But inevitably, it is more about Nobby and therefore it all falls short. The throwback scenes to when they were kids occurred to often and became an annoyance as well.
If the characters on the fringes had more on-screen involvement it could have been better and funnier. The comedy is left to just Sacha and Mark for the duration and there’s only so much they can do. Isla Fischer, Rebel Wilson and Ian McShane were poorly deputised. In addition, the poor Penelope Cruz had a torrid time in this as well as the Zoolander sequel.
Minus a few ill-advised gags about AIDS and paedophilia, there are a few amusing scenes that you can see becoming GIFs in the near future. It’s no way near the best Cohen feature but it’s an improvement on The Dictator. Although, we do learn way too much about Sacha’s fascination with genitalia thanks to a well hung elephant – I never thought I’d end a review with that sentence.
Cineroom’s Rating: 2 Stars
Grimsby is currently showing nationwide in selected cinemas – certificate 15