Posted Feb 25 2016

Grimsby - This "It's Grimsby Up North" Movie Eventually Rocks. Eventually.

Dir: Louis Leterrier

Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Isla Fisher, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Rebel Wilson, Johnny Vegas

We say that Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest ends much better than it starts. But that begs the question – does it? Or were we just worn down by its unrelenting dedication to all things bad taste? We – in the spirit of charity - are going with the former, because we feel the movie does generally improve as it goes along its decidedly brief running time (not a bad thing.) But it starts off pretty ropey.

Baron Cohen is Grimsby-based footie hooligan Nobby, Mark Strong his long separated, altogether smoother brother turned Bond-like super spy. When they are reunited, you know, “hilarity ensues.”

And a lot of it misses the mark. The desire to shock initially seems to be more important to all those concerned than the desire to make its audience laugh. But – in the film’s defence – some of it is just so extreme, that you can’t help but play along. If the notion of Harry Potter getting AIDS (in a scientifically inaccurate depiction of how that can happen) offends you – then this is not the film for you. And, in a strange way, Baron Cohen and co have done their job.

There’s a curious Britpop feel to the whole thing as well that isn’t just the soundtrack – take a bow Blur, Oasis and the mighty Chumbawamba. But it feels out of place as much as out of time. Perhaps the conceit is that places ”oop north” just haven’t moved on like the rest of the world. If that’s the idea, it’s a half-formed one at best. Like most of the film.

The real shame here is that this is nowhere near as balanced as it needs to be. Its attempts at backstory and –dare we say it – “heart” or even it’s family message – come across as anything but sincere, parody almost. And its desire to shock completely supersedes its need to tell a story.

But it’s hard not to laugh at two men trapped in an elephant’s vagina as the bucks line up to take their turn. Or a man with a rocket up his bum in need of another arsehole – and finding it in his brother. (And the Liam Gallagher gag finally pays off.)

So yes, Grimsby does get funnier as it goes long. And, even though you don’t think you should, you will find yourself laughing. And in the age of Daddy’s Home and Dirty Grandpa, that’s some kind of achievement. (Maybe not the best kind…)


Sacha Baron Cohen in new Grimsby poster


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