Grimsby (2016)


Film review of the comedy about an uncouth, party-loving man from Grimsby, Lincolnshire (Sacha Baron-Cohen) who causes mayhem when he is reunited with his long-lost younger brother (Mark Strong) who is now a refined, urbane spy.

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Director: Louis Leterrier. (83 mins). Big Talk/Four By Two/L Star Capital et al (15).


2stars - Fair/ passes the time


Cast & credits

Producers: Peter Baynham, Tim Bevan et al.
Writers: Sacha Baron-Cohen, Peter Baynham, Phil Johnston.
Camera: Oliver Wood.
Music: David Buckley, Erran Baron Cohen.
Sets: Kave Quinn.

Sacha Baron-Cohen, Mark Strong, Isla Fisher, Ian McShane, Penelope Cruz, Rebel Wilson, Annabelle Wallis, Scott Adkins, Tamsin Egerton, Gabourey Sidibe, Johnny Vegas, Sam Hazeldene.


Sebastian is a top spy (Strong) with a difficult mission to crack, to take out an assassin who is attempting to kill a scientist (Cruz) who has invented a vaccine that can cure the world of illness and infirmity. His work is made all the more difficult when his long-lost brother Nobby (Baron-Cohen), now a loutish, football loving, booze-swilling man, who remained in their home town of Grimsby when Sebastian was adopted by a London family years before. Despite being vastly different, they must team up to stop the people who want to bring harm to the poor people of the world whilst being double-crossed the world over.

ReviewGrimsby film poster

Thinking wistfully, one can daydream the Lumiere brothers sat down in Lyon, France in the spring of 1895, excited as to the possibilities for their wonderful new invention, the cinematograph. Perhaps it will be used to create mind-blowing, epic, moving pictures, or deep, thoughtful pieces that let us contemplate on the human condition.

They might also have considered it’s use in a rather different mode. Perhaps to present a quick and dirty comedy about a Northern ‘gimmer’ (I get that phrase from my Liverpudlian boss. I rather like it and may use it again in this review) who boozes, bonks and saves the world, with frequent recourse to foul language.

So then, Baron-Cohen, the comic behind BoratBruno and The Dictator continues his cinematic assassination of good taste with this piece, originally entitled The Brothers Grimsby. Aye, aye, aye…where do you start?

Having never visited the titular town, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the satirical (and surprisingly venal) observations the writers punctuate the film with. If I had then I may very well have a different take on the film. Baron-Cohen, born in Hammersmith to middle-class parents, who went to independent schools and majored at Cambridge University, reveals an unabashed, seemingly hateful, view of the working class. In this film we see:

  • People having sex in the streets (and blithely making out in front of strangers at any opportunity)
  • Excessive drinking, including that of children and toddlers
  • Children smoking
  • Mile long queues for the Job Centre
  • Thieving as a professional career option
  • General bad behaviour and lawlessness

It’s ‘Broken Britain’ on the big screen. How the Daily Mail gave this 3/5 stars is beyond me but then I do agree with them that this is still “intermittently hilarious”, despite my reservations.

A big minus for this film is the horrible, downright nasty, way in which people with HIV and AIDS are represented as being a mobile, virulent threat at any time of the day and in any situation. A disabled boy unwittingly infects Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe after his blood sprays into Radcliffe’s sore-ridden mouth. Unlikely, even more so that the infected person would then develop full-blown AIDS and look like they are on their last legs within a matter of days.

Perhaps I’m missing the joke here. If so, I’m glad. It’s beyond offensive and worrying someone would write it for laughs.

I could not have cringed anymore in my seat if I had tried. Part of me (the bit that has empathy with other people and feeling for others) switched off at this point. From here on in, I viewed the film almost as an automaton looking for silly, crude laughs…the cruder and sillier the better.

Grimsby does deliver some massive belly-laughs as the mis-matched brothers learn to work together, uncomfortably sandwiched between elephantine sex scenes (I won’t go into any further detail on this. But be prepared to cringe yourselves) and, even more troubling than the AIDS skit, an extended scene about incest which puts the grim in Grimsby.

Without the crudity and negativity, there are laughs to be had. The town sign which reads ‘Grimsby…twinned with Chernobyl’ is cruel but smart and clearly incorrect, the children of Nobby’s neighbourhood come out with some witty observations and everyone’s favourite party girl Wilson pops up as Nobby’s adored paramour Dawn, gleefully informing him that she has lost her panties on the bus back from town.

Leterrier and his various unit teams definitely deserve plaudits for the awesome opening sequence with Strong doing athletic battle with a group of baddies, a scene which puts many a James Bond film to shame.

See the official trailer on Youtube.


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