Review: ‘The Brothers Grimsby’ Is Crude With No Payoff

Maddie Crichton ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Mark Strong and Sacha Baron Cohen in The Brothers Grimsby. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

It has been three years since we last saw Sacha Baron Cohen hit the silver screen, and even longer since he has written one of his classic comedies, so hopes were set high for The Brothers Grimsby. These high hopes, unfortunately, were not fully met.

The story follows Nobby (Cohen), who was separated from his brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) when they were children. Nobby grew up to be a beer drinking, football loving, and not-so-smart family man, and never gave up hope that he would one day reunite with Sebastian. When Nobby finally finds his brother, chaos ensues. Nobby learns that Sebastian is a high-profile spy, and tangles himself in a mission involving the safety of the entire planet.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong in The Brothers Grimsby. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

While seeing a James Bond like character next to his brother, who is the absolute stark opposite of him, creates both embarrassment and humor; alone it is not enough to carry the film. Of course, creating wacky characters is nothing foreign to Cohen. His most famous roles include the title characters of mockumentaries like Borat and Brüno. Having outlandish characters drive those films worked because they were not traditional narratives. However, The Brothers Grimsby is a narrative, and needed a stronger storyline to compliment its characters.
The humor and jokes in the film also fall flat. Each scene is just another slapstick bit followed by something gross and then a penis joke, all in the middle of a car-chase or shoot-out. Having comedy like this is fine, and can be really funny, but only if balanced by wit and smart humor, which The Brothers Grimsby has none of. Almost every scene is relatively cringe-worthy and has nothing to back the crude humor.

The film packs in a bunch of famous faces. Mark Strong plays alongside Cohen as a stealthy secret agent. Strong is a proper British actor, so seeing him in this ridiculous comedy felt out of place, like watching a cat in a dog show. Other stars given more background roles include Rebel Wilson, Isla Fisher, Penelope Cruz, Barkhad Abdi, and Gabourey Sidibe. But no slew of celebrity cameos could save this film from its journey downhill.
If anything can be said for the film, it’s that the action sequences were interesting to watch. Some of the action scenes play out as if in a video game like ‘Call of Duty’. This style is exciting, but an action comedy needs more than just action to survive. Comedy is equally, if not even more essential to this genre. And each joke was a swing and a miss.

Overall Grade: D

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