NOTE: This review was written from the fetal position in a shower shortly after seeing the film ‘Grimsby’.
Sacha Baron Cohen was actually nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for 'Borat'. Despite appearances, that movie was in fact a work of genius. But in the years that followed, Baron Cohen has run out of his signature characters to milk - Bruno, Borat and Ali G - that we’re now seeing what he’s really made of - apparently it’s semen, no matter where it comes from.
Sacha has written, produced and stars in ‘Grimsby’ - the tale of the Butcher Brothers from Grimsby. As children, the youngest Sebastian (Mark Strong) is adopted and later becomes one of the world’s deadliest secret MI6 agents, while sweet but dimwitted soccer fanatic Nobby (Baron Cohen) continues to live in Grimsby with his girlfriend (Rebel Wilson) and their 11 children. After a 28-year search, Nobby finally tracks down Sebastian, at the worst possible time. Foiling an assassination attempt in a dominoing series of mistakes, Sebastian is wrongly implicated and now on the run with Nobby in tow. The brothers then travel from London to Grimsby to South Africa to Chile in order to clear their names and stop a terror attack that could kill billions. What could go wrong?
There are moments in this movie that once seen cannot be unseen. Spoiler alert: it involves elephant semen... a lot of elephant semen, and that’s just for starters. The level of humour on display here is not exactly Mensa grade. Sure, there are stabs at Donald Trump (let’s face it, he deserves them), Bill Cosby (so does he), gun violence (yep) and Daniel Radcliffe (not Harry Potter!), but in amongst those are also visual jokes about sucking on testicles, fireworks shoved up bums, poo and cunnilingus with obese women. Oh yeah, in case it’s not clear yet, do not take your children to see this.
There are moments in this movie that once seen cannot be unseen.
I’d like to say that Sacha Baron Cohen is better than this. As a performer: definitely. As a filmmaker: his last decade has left me wanting, with a worry that "better" is no longer an option. Both Mark Strong and Baron Cohen are brilliant performers and clearly relish the physical side to this movie and their on-screen banter, but as a whole you gotta ask, what the hell were they thinking? Director Louis Leterrier, known for ‘The Transporter’, ‘The Incredible Hunk’ and ‘Now You See Me’, was clearly brought in for his action and visual effects prowess and not his comedic sensitivity.
Look, there’s a couple of good laughs and great action sequences, but honestly, I watched most of the film behind my hands, peeking though fingers when I thought it was safe. If you’re familiar with Baron Cohen’s work, you know what to expect - just take those expectations and dumb it down a few (many) notches and you’ll arrive at ‘Grimsby’.