When I first saw the trailer for Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest offering Grimsby (known as The Brothers Grimsby in some markets outside the UK) I was less than inspired. But the presence of the usually excellent Mark Strong and Penelope Cruz and occasionally good Rebel Wilson gave me some hope that this would be a decent film…
The plot is a simple tale of brother’s separated in their youth. One became a secret agent on a mission to save the world, the other a chav on a mission to find his long-lost brother. Here is the official synopsis:
Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen), a sweet but dimwitted English football hooligan, reunites with his long-lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), a deadly MI6 agent, to prevent a massive global terror attack and prove that behind every great spy is an embarrassing sibling.
Nobby has everything a man from Grimsby could want, including 11 children and the most gorgeous girlfriend in the northeast of England (Rebel Wilson). There’s only one thing missing: his little brother, Sebastian, who Nobby has spent 28 years searching for after they were separated as kids. Nobby sets off to reunite with Sebastian, unaware that not only is his brother MI6’s deadliest assassin, but he’s just uncovered plans for an imminent global terrorist attack. On the run and wrongfully accused, Sebastian realizes that if he is going to save the world, he will need the help of its biggest idiot.
This is probably the worst film I have ever had the misfortune of watching in the cinema, and possibly the worst film I have ever watched!
As you can probably tell from my review of Vacation last year, I wasn’t a fan of that film. Well, Grimsby is worse. It somehow manages to supersede it in vulgarity, crassness, and is completely void of any humour whatsoever from start to finish.
A lot of Cohen’s other work attempts to combine some level of crass and obvious humour with a satirical look at the views and opinions of society. That is, however, not the case here, even though Grimsby seems to think that it is, on some level, a commentary on family, social division and prejudice.
In fact the only real social commentary that this film manages is to highlight just how low audience’s standards have fallen these days, as despite just how bad this abysmal, humourless void of a film is, other viewers apparently found it hilarious. I honestly cannot fathom how anyone managed a mild chuckle let alone side-splitting laughter.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the film is that there are glimpses of a genuinely engaging story of the two brothers in their youth. That could and should have been the basis for an interesting, humorous exploration of relationships, family and society. Instead we are left with a festering pool of abusive children and jokes about rape, paedophilia and sex.
The film reaches a particularly low point when Cohen and Strong climb into a live female elephant to escape some baddies, only to then also have to deal with amorous male elephants and their attempts to impregnate the female in which the two are hiding. That scene must have gone on for about five minutes in graphic detail, and having not been funny at the start, was downright tedious by the end.
The film is also bookended by an apparently hilarious joke about famous people contracting HIV. First up is Daniel Radcliffe (played by a lookalike) who contracts HIV by ingesting the blood of an AIDS suffering, wheelchair bound Israeli-Palestinian child that Strong’s character accidentally shoots early in the film. The end of the film has the same scenario but with Daniel Radcliffe getting shot and Donald Trump contracting HIV…because you know, HIV and AIDS are hilarious. The AIDS suffering, wheelchair bound Israeli-Palestinian child also reappears towards the end of the film when he and his wheel-chair are tipped over the railings by some Grimsby kids in an effort to kill an assassin who is planning to kill Strong’s character.
And as for Mark Strong and Penelope Cruz, I can only assume that some studio executive has some sort of dirt on them, or that they are desperate for cash and never actually read the script before signing up. Those seem to be the only possible reasons why they would agree to be in a film this horrifically bad.
Unlike Borat which some people took a disliking to because they found it offensive, Grimsby isn’t offensive, it is just offensively bad – the very fact that the film exists offends me far more than anything contained within it. I have no problem with crass or vulgar humour when they are done well, but in Grimsby, they aren’t. There is no subtlety and no intelligence. From start to finish, it relies on swearing children and frequent references to sex from both humans and animals alike.
Grimsby is by far the worst film I have ever seen in the cinema and if it isn’t the worst film I have ever seen, it is definitely very close to the top of that list.