Matt Adcock reviews Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy Grimsby (15)
When the world is threatened by an evil plot, can MI6’s top agent Sebastian Butcher (Mark ‘Kingsman’ Strong) find a way to save us? It’s a big ask, especially as he’s in an emotionally vulnerable state after a reunion with his long lost brother Carl ‘Nobby’ Butcher (Sacha Baron Cohen).
These Butcher brothers are made of stern stuff – they hail from Grimsby after all. Meet big hearted and foul mouthed Nobby, an unlikely working class hero. Part football yob, part idiot benefit cheat with nine children (named Django Unchained, Skeletor etc) – is this the man who can help his brother foil a attempt to assassinate leading humanitarian Rhonda George (Penelope Cruz)? With Sebastian’s cover blown and only his faithful handler Jodie (Isla Fisher) willing to help, he doesn’t have a choice.
Director Louis ‘The Transporter’ Leterrier changes up the ‘usual’ Sacha Cohen tomfoolery by injecting some balls-out (in every sense of the words) action scenes, up there with Mission Impossible et al. Strong is, erm, strong in the super-spy role whilst Cohen is brings his cutting satire comedy lens to bear on ‘broken Britain’ – putting the ‘grim’ in Grimsby.
Get ready then for a seriously bad-taste-em-up action comedy that will offend as much as it amuses, get your adrenalin pumping and leave you laughing (even if hating yourself for it). Cohen just doesn’t have a PC filter and here the biggest laughs are crafted from seriously gross-out scenes – the elephant orgy alone is liable to burn itself into your mind forever.
There is a cleverness at work behind the scenes though - making cutting social points such as when Nobby gets into a shootout and tells Sebastian “I understand why you love guns so much now...it completely detaches you from the guilt of your actions.”
Some of the targets work better than others, Donald Trump makes this feel very ‘of the moment’ whilst quite what Daniel Radcliffe has done to deserve such treatment we can only wonder at. There are a ton of fun cameos that include Rebel ‘Pitch Perfect’ Wilson as Nobby’s Northern Mrs - Lindsey, Gabourey ‘Precious’ Sidibe as Banu the Cleaner and Ricky Tomlinson as Paedo Pete.
Not everything works – the jokes about Aids and children in wheelchairs are hardly fitting as mass crowd-pleasers but Cohen’s horrible gift is in getting you laughing along despite yourself and thus losing the right claim moral high ground.
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