Film review: GRIMSBY from ‘Built For Speed’

Grimsby continues the saddening downward spiral in quality for Sacha Baron Cohen’s films. Borat, although largely regurgitated from the segments on Ali G, was often hilarious, Bruno was intermittently funny, The Dictator was disappointing but had a few comical moments whereas Grimsby is depressingly simple-minded and predictable.

The film ostensibly parodies both spy films and English soccer yob culture but is really just an excuse for bottom, testicle and semen jokes that become tiresome after five seconds.

Cohen, who co-wrote the script with Phil Johnston and Peter Baynham, plays Nobby Butcher, the sort of bloke shows like A Current Affair love: a terminally unemployed, welfare dependent, soccer hooligan father to a brood of 11 children. Aside from England’s poor world cup record, the great tragedy of Nobby’s life has been the disappearance of his younger brother Sebastian 28 years earlier. When Nobby stumbles across Sebastian (Mark Strong) he decides to have a surprise reunion not realising that Sebastian is an elite MI6 agent on a secret mission to protect World Health leader Rhonda George (Penelope Cruz). Through Nobby’s bumbling, he and Sebastian become the most wanted men in the world, hunted by MI6 and international terrorists.

This film will divide those who think humour is about subtly and wit and those who enjoy crass, sledgehammer political incorrectness. If you’re the latter you will probably love this film, particularly a scene involving the sexual violation of an elephant which was recently shown to horrified audiences on the Jimmy Kimmell and Jonathon Ross shows. Others will yawn or grind their teeth at the infantile genitalia jokes including one that features that talisman of bad contemporary comedies, the rubber testicle. Right-thinking viewers will also be justifiably incensed by the ill-conceived and mean-spirited gags about AIDS.

There are occasional slivers of genuine humour as Cohen draws on Nobby’s ridiculous lunk-headed world view but even these have come under fire as insulting misrepresentations of Northern Englanders.

The film was helmed by Transporter director Louis Letterier and understandably canters along at a decent pace with reasonably well filmed action scenes (at least for a low-brow comedy) and some unexpectedly impressive acrobatic martial arts displays.

Mostly, though this is dismal stuff and the mind boggles at why legitimate actors like Mark Strong and Penelope Cruz (who, after Zoolander No.2, seems to be making a habit of appearing in dud comedies) chose to demean themselves in a film like this. Ian McShane, Rebel Wilson and Isla Fisher also appear in mostly thankless roles.

This film will no doubt have people flocking to the cinema simply because of the notoriety it has already established though Cohen’s clever marketing plan but once the initial shock effect wears off we’re left with a pretty limp movie.

Nick’s rating: **.

Genre: Comedy.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Louis Leterrier.

Release date: 10th March 2016.

Running time: 83 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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