Grimsby marks the fourth film in Sacha Baron Cohen’s post Ali G career. Each film seems to have fallen deeper into dangerous and offensive territory. It is clear that Cohen thrives in controversy and providing edgy comedy, but Grimsby goes further down a black hole than the previous four.
Cohen plays a big, dumb football fan from Grimsby who lost his brother as a child and is desperate to reconnect with him. In the meantime, Sebastian, played by Mark Strong, has become a spy with MI-5. The two collide at a major charity event leading to disastrous consequences. They then go into hiding in Grimsby, before going across the world wreaking chaos as they go with shocking, and often disgusting consequences.
The supporting cast is full of stars. Alongside Cohen and Cruz are Penelope Cruz, who plays the head of a world charity; Rebel Wilson, playing Nobbie’s girlfriend and Barkhad Abdi in a brief role. It does beg the question, why such stars would resort to taking on such a film. They struggle to show their talents with a weak script that plods along with no real order and a senseless plot. Whether you come to Grimsby for comedy or drama, you miss out on both.
Certain scenes will live long in the memory for all of the wrong reasons, and at times, you just want to stop watching. As the film moves from one set piece to another, there is nothing really to smile about and most of the time you find yourself grimacing. In particular, one scene may lead to many being unable to look at an elephant again in the same way again.
The jokes range from absurd sex jokes, toilet humour and jokes insulting homosexuality. The film is at its worst when sprays of infected blood start to infect famous “celebrities” with HIV. These celebrities are played by unimpressive lookalikes. However, it is difficult to expect anything less from Sacha Baron Cohen nowadays. The films seem to sell cinema seats based off controversy, rather than appeal from trailers or other media.
Having done poorly at the box office, maybe finally films like this will stop, as they push the limits of comedy far beyond social norms. Whether Baron Cohen will find a market in his next film remains to be seen but hopefully this film doesn’t live long in the British history, but certain scenes will be hard to forget for many audience members.
Dir: Louis Leterrier
Scr: Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston, Peter Baynham
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wilson
Prd: Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Ant Hines, Nira Park, Todd Schulman
Music: David Buckley, Erran Baron Cohen
Run Time: 83 minutes
Grimsby is out on DVD on Monday 4th July