Thursday, March 17, 2016

Movie Review #395: "The Brothers Grimsby" (2016)

Movie"The Brothers Grimsby"
Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: Louis Leterrier
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes
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Ever since he was separated from his brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) as a child, Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) has been searching for him and is looking to reconnect. Luckily, a friend spotted Sebastian in London for a world environmental conference. However, Nobby discovers that Sebastian is a spy and is there to prevent an assassination. When Nobby inadvertently interferes with his brother's mission and gets him framed for the attack, it forces this low class soccer hooligan into the world of high class spy work and vice versa.

Written by and starring the Oscar nominated* Sacha Baron Cohen, "The Brothers Grimsby" is just about what you'd expect from him if you are familiar with his previous works. This movie adds Cohen's typical gross-out, edgy shock humor combined with a bit of witty, topical banter and some underlying social commentary. Cohen plays a soccer hooligan named Nobby, who is the walking, breathing, talking stereotype of a low income, uneducated soccer fan. He has nine kids with his live-in girlfriend, played by Rebel Wilson in a very small role, and is receiving government assistance while he spends most his days drinking and watching his favorite local soccer team compete. He lets his kids curse up a storm and thinks watching nature footage of elephants having sex constitutes an education. There is a hole in Nobby's life where his brother used to be, and after they were split up as children, he is holding out hope that one day, he find him after decades of searching. Mark Strong plays the aforementioned brother named  Sebastian, who was adopted by educated parents and raised in London. He grew up to be a top-level international spy with a deadly disposition. Once they are reconnected, chaos quickly ensues, and Nobby interferes with Sebastian's job to prevent an assassination at a world health conference. This leads to a series of unfortunate events for Sebastian as he is forced to endure his dimwitted, invasive brother, who keeps interfering more and more as this elite trained spy clashes with a poor ol' sod.

We have to admit, we laughed a lot harder than we expected to during a movie like "The Brothers Grimsby." You must know going in the situations here are not for everyone. If you liked "Borat" or "Bruno," you're probably okay sitting through this, though we believe "Grimsby" pushes the disgusting, depraved envelope more ways than one. Our laughs mostly came from the topical references and the jokes that were socially or political referential. There were some gags that managed to mix the sociopolitical with the downright raunchy, and we enjoyed those as well. We appreciate a well timed joke, especially for this odd political and social climate in which we find ourselves. Most of the shock humor, the stuff meant to make people walk out of the theater in sheer and utter revulsion, missed its mark completely. These portions of the film only serve to nauseate the audience, rather than to make them laugh. How terrible these scenes are begin to overshadow the good, poignant comedy around the 30 minute mark, but every once in a while, one or two quips lands where it needs to.

Being that "The Brothers Grimsby" incorporates a spy parody theme, there is a good amount of action, too. These over-the-top moments offer a good laughs every once in a while, and we were shocked to see how well constructed some of these combat and explosion scenes were in a film with a modest budget. There is also a cool camera technique where it switches to a first person point of view so we see said action through the eyes of Sebastian or Nobby. This happens quite frequently and never feels like it's out of place. The shaky nature of this style can be dizzying quickly, though, and with "Hardcore Henry" on the way within the next month, we wonder how much this video game style of camerawork will impact our enjoyment of that film.

If you do decide to see "The Brothers Grimsby" in the theater, and based on its box office performance its first week out, you didn't and won't, do so at your own risk. I liked this movie a little more than BigJ, shockingly enough. Cohen thrives on his getting his digs in via sharp, observant commentary, and there's a lot to be had once the phallus obsession is stripped away. Unfortunately, Sacha Baron Cohen may have reached his expiry date with the people of America. Many moviegoers are tired of seeing the same shtick over and over again, meaning the bodily function humor that finds his character perpetually sticking objects that don't belong where the sun don't shine.  We have seen Cohen perform well enough in dramatic and musical roles to know he may still have a place as an actor in the future, but his comedic days may very well be over. In the end, there were definitely some laughs here, but not enough to overpower the crude nature of "Grimsby." We can't say we recommend it.

*We were just as shocked as you to find out, yes, Sacha Baron Cohen is Oscar nominated. He was nominated for best adapted screenplay for "Borat."

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 37%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.
One year ago, we were watching: "Top Five"

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