Film Review: ‘The Brothers Grimsby’ (2016)

bros grimsby

How much longer are we going to have to endure Sacha Baron Cohen? Excuse me – Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Sacha Baron Cohen.

Cohen is the very definition of a one-hit wonder. Borat was a gleefully crude but actually funny film, which won Cohen his Golden Globe and garnered him an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination. People knew him from Da Ali G show – not me! – so Borat was my introduction to Cohen’s brand of humor. I wish it had ended there.

The Brothers Grimsby is his latest attempt to shock and disgust but in doing so, he forgets to be funny. Crude R-rated films can be very funny if the jokes are played for laughs and not lame attempts to shock an audience. Cohen packs The Brothers Grimsby full of gross-out gags and cutaway shots as the punchline. In a theater of about 10 people, no one laughed.

(Okay, the young teenager who was with what seemed to be his dad laughed a bit, which begs the question why the parent or guardian brought him to this movie?)

Cohen stars as Nobby. He spends the majority of the film wearing a football jersey and long jeans, which usually reveal a bit too much of his backside. When he was young, he was separated from his brother, who was his best friend and partner-in-crime. Twenty-eight years later, Nobby finally finds out where he can locate his brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong).

Sebastian is a secret agent, working for MI:6. He is on a job, about to take out an assassin, who was sent to kill Rhonda George (Penelope Cruz), an actress and philanthropist. Nobby spots his brother, about to take the shot, and creeps up on him and Sebastian’s shot doesn’t go according to plan, which ends up making him a wanted man.

No-nonsense Sebastian has very little interest catching up with Nobby, who so desperately wants his brother back. Unfortunately, Sebastian is forced to go on the lam with his brother, dodging everyone who is trying to kill him. Most of his peril is thanks to Nobby being such a moron.

Familiar faces show up throughout the movie. Rebel Wilson plays Nobby’s wife, Gabourey Sidibe is given a thankless role as a hotel maid and Ian McShane shows up as Sebastian’s boss. Every role is an afterthought outside of the brothers but Cohen just obnoxiously forces himself into the spotlight. Strong is too good of an actor for this kind of stuff but his presence brings the film a sliver of gravitas.

So the question remains. How much longer will we have to endure Cohen? He’s public persona, red carpet antics and films have not been funny since the popularity of Borat. As a writer, producer and star of The Brothers Grimsby, he is the conductor of everything that happens in the film. He is definitely to blame for an extended sequence of Nobby and Sebastian crawling inside an elephant’s vagina to hide of some bad guys. What happens next is even worse.

Look at movies like 21 or 22 Jump Street or the first Ted, which are such funny movies packed with vulgarity. There can be a harmonious balance between the two. Cohen’s desperate attempts to scrape the bottom of the barrel – HIV, pedophilia, et al are all in play here – are just getting old and lame. The Brothers Grimsby won’t entertain you. It’ll make you feel like you need to go see The Young Messiah after – or take a shower.

Rating: 3 out of 10




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