Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Grimsby (2016)

Firstly, it's called Grimsby. I refuse to call it by its lame American title, The Brothers Grimsby, which doesn't even make any sense - Grimsby isn't their surname, it's where they're from!

Anyway, on to the film...

Grimsby is Shameless meets James Bond. A ribald, gross-out and utterly silly cartoonish comedy from that king of offensive puerile humour, Sacha Baron Cohen. If you like the man, then the chances are you'll enjoy the film. If you don't then it really won't be your cup of tea.

Like The Dictator, Grimsby is a purely fictional tale. I think I prefer it when Baron Cohen uses a narrative rather than playing 'candid camera' on the general public in the guise of one of his characters. Though, I'm aware I'm in a minority here, as more people rave about films like Borat and Bruno than they do The Dictator.

Baron Cohen stars as Nobby, a knuckleheaded, feckless football fan with a Gallagher-esque haircut who hails from Grimsby and has not seen his kid brother for twenty-eight years, when he was adopted by a family from London. His brother Sebastian thrived away from Grimsby and was recruited by MI6 to become a sleek assassin and one of their top Bond-esque agents. He's played by Mark Strong, who gamely approaches the role completely straight. When Nobby gets wind of where to find his brother, he gatecrashes a charity gala and inadvertently gets his brother framed as an enemy agent in the eyes of his paymasters at MI6. Together, they go on the run across the globe and attempt to foil a sinister eugenicist plot that I imagine Iain Duncan Smith would greatly admire -  eradicating the working classes of the world to solve the population problem.

The film boasts an impressive cast of supporting players but sadly wastes a good deal of them. Indeed, blink and you'll miss turns from David Harewood, Rebecca Front, Alex Lowe and Miles Jupp, all of whom I expect ended up on the cutting room floor. But there's Ian McShane and Isla Fisher at MI6, PenĂ©lope Cruz as an A-list actress with an interest in global health care and, representing Grimsby, we have the likes of Johnny Vegas, John Thomson, Ricky Tomlinson and, best of all, Rebel Wilson in another scene stealing role as Nobby's girlfriend that brings plenty of laughs yet once again requires her to do little more than laugh at her own appearance. 

As funny as she is, just once I'd like to see her appear in a film in which her figure is not the central joke. Unfortunately it's something I doubt we'll see until/unless she writes her own material and has the confidence not to go for the obvious. Some surprise appearances from Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi and Precious star Gabourey Sidibe also lift the film.

Whilst some of the film's biggest gag setpieces don't fly as well as one imagines Baron Cohen et al expected, you have to marvel at their commitment to utter gross-out spectacle. Better for me personally was some of the one liners and smaller setpieces - such as Nobby's ill timed cheer at hearing the England football result at the charity function just as a wheelchairbound boy reveals he has AIDS - and the unexpected political bite found in Baron Cohen's affectionate support for his characters.

Whilst not a huge success - the direction only seems assured of itself with the big comic setpieces and the computer game shoot 'em up style action, losing some of the appreciation necessary for the smaller, but no less vital character comedy moments - Grimsby is nevertheless short and colourful enough to impress. It's certainly got more oomph and more belly laughs than Dad's Army. And any film that gives Donald Trump AIDS, is alright by me!

No comments:

Post a Comment