The Brothers Grimsby, or just Grimsby for short, follows the story of a boneheaded English football yobbo named Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) who lives in the poor fishing town of Grimsby. His long-life dream is to reunite with his brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), whom he hasn’t seen in 28 years. But when the opportunity comes, Nobby dimwittingly compromises his brother’s mission, as Sebastian happens to be a secret agent for MI-6. What ensues is the brothers going on a crazy spy adventure to stop a major terrorist attack while a psychotic assassin is set loose on them.
First and foremost, the story is incredibly lazy and stupid. But way worse is the quality of its humor. I’m not going to say that none of the jokes are hilarious – there are definitely some laughs to be had. However, the majority of which are just disgusting, diminishing the comedic gratification that can be taken from them.
I understand that going extreme has always been Sacha Baron Cohen’s thing. And that kind of comedy has worked in the past when clever satire is involved. But with Grimsby, Cohen misfires by being shocking for being shocking’s sake. There’s no thoughtfulness behind the outrageous antics.
The movie has this notoriously notable scene that involves elephants. As part of this movie’s promotion, Cohen brought this footage during his guesting on Jimmy Kimmel’s show. Since the scene is extremely crude, it wasn’t shown on TV. Instead, it was played to the audience and the camera captured their reactions. It was a very clever marketing gimmick, and probably the main reason why I decided to watch this movie. It made me intrigued. When I finally get to see it for myself, I was weirdly laughing and cringing at the same time – just as Kimmel’s audience did. It’s a unique comical sequence, but just too dirty to actually please.
In fact, I was cringing for most of this movie. Even those times where I laughed or chuckled. If nothing else, that elephant scene represents what Grimsby is: cringe-worthy even when funny.