Review: Grimsby – The sad decline of a once great comedian

Grimsby is the fifth full feature film written by Sacha Baron Cohen, and the audience will find that his ridiculous style of comedy is beginning to tire. It is about a spy, played by Mark Strong, who is found by his brother, Nobby (Cohen himself), after they became separated as young children. This pitiful 83 minute long film is ludicrous, weary and most importantly unfunny. Cohen achieved his greatest success with Borat, in which he plays a Kazakh TV presenter who first appeared in Ali G; his writing duties on the film earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. He couldn’t be any further from that now.

The main reason for this movie’s failings are in the script. The lack of emotional weight that we’ve seen in comedies for the last five years or so is also present here. We are supposed to feel for the two central characters, yet this never occurs and and often leads to a lot of the jokes feeling stale. Nobby is your usual buffoon trope, seeming always to get in the way, and while he is convincingly acted the audience will be left asking for more. Strong’s character, Sebastian Butcher, is an agent who is on the run and trying to stop the destruction of the world – probably the most clichéd story arcs ever. There is nothing wrong with his performance as the spy, but there is nothing particularly noteworthy about it either. It’s a run of the mill rendition that sees him play a poorer version of his character from Kingsman: The Secret Service, which came out all of one year ago (and is a far better film).

With a spy-based thriller comedy you also come to expect fight sequences, and this is the one place where Grimsby can hold its head up. It is quick and well directed by Louis Leterrier, somethng that now all action movies can boast about. However, the location changes what seems like every five minutes, which manages to be both very distracting and somewhat unnecessary. All in all, people will go into this film expecting Cohen’s normal ridiculous comedy – and undoubtedly they will get it – but not the same gut-busting gags that Borat (or even, God forbid, Bruno) delivers.

James Berman

Image courtesy of Daniel Smith/AP

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