Sacha Baron Cohen, known well for his controversial characters, has presented the audience with a fusion of genres in his new, frantic mess of a film ‘Grimsby’. Unlike any of his previous films, ‘Grimsby’ attempts to produces a cardboard parody of some of the most beloved and experimental genres of film. The idea of introducing social realism into the comedy and spy genre should sound appealing, and it is. Cohen easily produces some memorable characters with some hilariously quotable scenes. However, this doesn’t last long as the film spirals down a rabbit-hole of predictable tropes and unoriginal ideas as the film quickly turns into an attempted parody of Johnny English’s Parody of the Spy genre. I say that because it doesn’t quite fulfill the standards of a Bond film as stereotypes are exaggerated, not for comedic purpose, but to display a disconnect from Cohen’s normal format as he plunges into the action genre for the first time in his writing career.
They say that you should stick to what you’re good at, and that’s the advice I willing share to Cohen as this film fails to live up to the standards of that of ‘Borat’ and ‘Ali-G’. Infact, I really doubted his contribution to the film’s production as this poorly written mess fell well below the standard of any of his previous films. Predictable writing with no focus is what enters my mind when I watch this film as Cohen strives to include every aspect of each genre into a one hour and twenty-three minute film. Laughably, Cohen manages to cheat Columbia Pictures into paying for his next holiday as the film’s luxurious locations were not needed to progress the story. Ironically, this was probably the utmost joke the film discharged.
The cinematography was an appalling disaster as untidy shots made it hard for the viewer to enjoy. I don’t think dizziness was the intent whilst filming but this is defiantly what Cohan accomplished as this film resulted in me reaching for the sick bucket. I understand that Cohan wanted to simulate fast-paced action however, he could have easily achieved this with a bit more finesse. Overall, this shoddy attempt was reminiscent of a student film, only worse.
I can’t dismiss this film for everything, as there genuinely are some hilarious moments in the film; some true Cohen moments. The comedic relief almost pays off for the terrible writing and bland characters as this film produces some authentic ‘Laugh out loud’ moments. Sadly, these moments are paired up and wrapped together with dull, meaningless story and thus deems it worthless. The benefit of this contrast however, is that these hysterical moments are amplified by the slow-paced writing and thus create a catalogue of moments that make the film worth watching. Certainly, this film is worth watching as its shallow plot makes for an easy to view experience, that being said, I wouldn’t go and watch this film in the cinema, as it really isn’t worth the £20, but do consider watching it on either netflix or amazon prime when it comes out, as I doubt a physical release is imminent for this film due to it falling into the bargain bin of unwanted obscurity.
Liam Gallagher look-alike Nobby Butcher, played by Cohen, is your typical underdog character that the audience shows little empathy for. His lower class background is a focus of comedic insult and Cohen presents a stereotypical insight into English poverty. He’s laughable and unattractive This is then juxtaposed by Nobby’s long lost brother and top secret service agent Sebastian, played by Mark Strong, He achieves a typical spy attitude which isn’t really shocking due to his major appearance in the comedy action ‘Kingsman: The secret service’. Despite the shallowness of these characters both Cohen and Strong play them really well however, I would argue that the Strong’s bland character made it impossible to both improve or ruin. Yet somehow, beneath the cliche writing and limp character construction, we see a progressive bonding between both Nobby and Sebastian. Despite my previous critique, I must congratulate Cohen on how he was able to write the slow but satisfying relationship between the brothers and this is aided by Cohen’s comedic ability.
To expand however, I must say that Cohen resulted in using cheap trends to fuel his comedic engine as political and cultural references were dotted throughout the film. Unoriginally, He mocked Donald Trump in what seemed like a last minute after though in the production of this film as unneeded comments mocking the hopeful presidential candidate were used in an attempt to appeal to the viewer. I must say that this backlashed immensely due to the already overused humour circulating the internet and Cohen’s addition to this seemed much like he was jumping on the bandwagon.
I can’t say that this film wasn’t fun to watch, but it is hard to praise. ‘Grimsby’ very much falls into my ‘watch and forget’ category as it made no lasting impact on myself as a viewer. A predictable plot and weak characters, a story with little direction and whelming special effects caused me to doubt Cohen’s ability as a writer, though his humour was very much prominent in his writing and moments like these actually made the film worth watching. Unlike ‘Borat’, this film was not a ‘Great Success’ and thus why I am rating it a miserable 3/10.