Grimsby Review - It's Impossible To Not Hate Sacha Baron Cohen's Latest

Just grim.

Rating: ˜… As a film watcher I can be very critical and forthright with my opinions, but there are very few films that get to me in such a way I'd actually say I hate them. Oh, there are movies that are completely boring from start to finish, movies that miss the mark to such an extent it's impossible to not get unbridledly annoyed by them and movies that are so incompetently made that they barely even qualify as a movie. But there are only really a handful of films I would say that I actively hate. Grimsby is one of them. For starters it's completely and utterly pointless, the third spy comedy we've got in just over twelve months and the second to star Mark Strong. But I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt because Sacha Baron Cohen made Borat a decade ago and for some reason we don't seem to learn from out mistakes. His latest character is an offensive approximation of working class Britain. I really don't think Baron Cohen or anyone involved with the production has actually been to the Grimsby, or anywhere in the North of England for that matter, because it ain't this caricature he paints. I thought at first maybe it was an attempt for some biting commentary on the Benefits Street culture that dominates the press, but all we get are jokes about how people from the titular town are homophobic hooligans.
We open with Baron Cohen and Rebel Wilson - who's in this because it's funny she's fat - having sex on a bed in a home store while a shop assistant watches on in disbelief (with you buddy) and with that the tone is set. There's going to be no attempt at building comedy in this movie; it's all jokes for jokes sakes, without a care for coherence or of elevating the material above so-crass-it's-unfunny. It's disgusting, but not in the way the movie wants to disgust you. Want to know how bad it gets? Well let me tell you a creative decision that must have actually happened during the making of this movie. Wouldn't it be funny if at one point (oh, and I might as well provide a light spoiler warning here) Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong have to hide from a bunch of mercanaries inside an elephant's vagina, only to realise too late she's the object of affection of a horny bull and, to avoid being pummelled to death by his member, are forced to help him along the way from the inside, leading to Strong getting a dousing of elephant jizz. And then, wouldn't it be really funny if it turns out this is - and these are Baron Cohen's own words - an elephant bukakke session, so we get this Gone With The Wind-style shot where the camera pans over a herd of horny elephants lined up waiting their turn, intercut with the two actors getting repeatedly soaked in spunk. Wouldn't that be f*cking funny? That actually f*cking happened.
Now you may think that does inexplicably sound funny or that I'm being snobbish, but trust me that it isn't and I'm not. I love good gross-out humour as much as the next person and this isn't good gross-out humour. Quite simply, the movie doesn't earn it. It bombs through its 83 minutes (which is hilariously shorter than a football game, a sport integral to the story that the film still misunderstands) in such a scattershot manner that few scenes last over a minute and thus all jokes are run-and-gun popshots. Everything else is just as thoughtless. The action is nauseatingly shot in constantly moving close-ups and POVs, while the plot is as generic as a spy thriller can be, which is odd given that director Louis Letterier is usually dependable (if never great) making me think the whole thing has been rushed out without care for refinement. With most movies there's always the sense that "Oh, it could be worse", but every now and then something comes along that keeps managing to undercut your lowest expectations. There is one joke at the end about FIFA that almost got a smile from me, but that only made me feel even dirtier than simply watching the film had. Grimbsy is just grim.
Grimbsy is in UK cinemas now and US cinemas from 11th March.
Contributor
Contributor

Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.

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