A new assignment forces a top spy to team up with his football hooligan brother.
Your tolerance for ‘Grimsby’ is likely to depend on what you think of the comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen in general, and whilst this is comfortably his weakest feature, I still enjoyed it for the most part. Baron Cohen’s comedy has frequently balanced sharp satire with gross out humour, mostly to good effect for my money, but ‘Grimsby’ is perhaps the time when that balance has been tipped too far away from the sharper comedy of the likes of ‘Borat’. Whilst this lacks the satirical bite of that film in particular, which benefited immensely from the inclusion of unsuspecting real people, it is pretty funny at times and I laughed a lot, often at the sheer outrageousness of what was happening on screen.
The premise of ‘Grimsby’ focuses on Nobby (Baron Cohen), a football hooligan from Grimsby who pines for his long lost brother, who was taken away from him when they were youngsters. That brother is MI6 agent Sebastian Graves (Mark Strong), and when Nobby tracks him down they’re forced to go on the run whilst trying to foil a terrorist plot. It’s buddy action comedy meets gross out humour and some aspects work better than others. The bits in ‘Grimsby’ had me laughing a lot and the casting of the likes of Johnny Vegas and Ricky Tomlinson is inspired, although both are underused. The comedy is less successful when we leave England, with the script overly reliant on the stupidity of its characters and a reliance on gross out humour taken to every possible extreme (as if the elephant scene wasn’t bad enough initially it’s dialled up to the next level!).
If you’re looking for smart comedy or wicked satire, you’ll not find much here, but as far as mainstream comedies go these days I found plenty to laugh at and the relatively short runtime means the film doesn’t outstay its welcome. The film is very much hit and miss, and on the occasions that it relies too much on the story and pushes for sentimentality it doesn’t work at all, given it directly goes against the film’s established mentality. I suspect this is one of those films that you’ll know whether you’re going to like or not going in, so I’d use that judgement accordingly!
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Isla Fisher, Ian McShane, Gabourey Sidibe, Annabelle Wallis, David Harewood, Ricky Tomlinson and Johnny Vegas