Pin It
Favorite

Dumbing it Down 

Sacha Baron Cohen loses his edge in The Brothers Grimsby

click to enlarge Borat no more.
  • Borat no more.

Ten years ago in Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen held up white-male privilege, racism, and sexism as worthy of ridicule. Seven years ago, in Brüno, he held up straight men's gay panic as deserving of derision. The fearless cultural critic that Baron Cohen once was would be appalled by the crass viciousness of The Brothers Grimsby. He has made himself the target of his former self with a witless action "comedy" that embraces the lowest forms of cruelty and bigotry, that wallows in anti-intellectualism, that celebrates bashing the poor as good fun.

The Brothers Grimsby is a soul-crushing experience not only for what it is, but for what it represents about the downfall of a comic who previously displayed genuine creative genius; Baron Cohen circa Borat would be dismayed at the glee with which today's version invites us to laugh at his portrayal — as star and cowriter — of Nobby Butcher, who doesn't work, has 11 kids, and proudly announces the welfare scams that bring money into the household. That Baron Cohen might have held up for ridicule the one-percenters who reduced Nobby's hometown of Grimsby — a working-class city in the north of England — to a post-industrial hellscape, but here it is only the unemployed poor who come in for abuse: they drink too much, have too many kids, and are generally disgusting slobs living the high life on the government teat. (Here's another movie, along with London Has Fallen, that Donald Trump fans will love.)

But even after holding up Nobby as a happy yet revolting moron, Grimsby expects us to feel something akin to tenderness for him when he finally finds his long-lost brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong), who was adopted separately when they were orphaned as children. Sebastian is now a top agent with MI6 — smart, sleek, supremely competent, the precise opposite of Nobby — but we cannot feel much generosity toward him either: even after Nobby has ruined one of Sebastian's ops, injured the agent, and has even done some idiotic things that threaten world peace and stability, Sebastian still hasn't run away in the opposite direction.

Any attempt on the movie's part to create authentic brotherly feeling between the men is missing. In its place, we have a thoroughly fatuous spy sendup as Nobby tags along on Sebastian's mission to stop a fiendish plot to kill millions. And that is subsumed to endlessly drawn-out scenes of penis panic — a new subset of gay panic that Baron Cohen appears to have newly invented — that are designed to engage the viewer's presumed revulsion rather than pity it (as Baron Cohen would have done 10 years ago). Grimsby presumes the viewer will agree that fat women — not just Rebel Wilson as Nobby's wife, but in a truly vile sequence, Gabourey Sidibe as a hotel maid — are gross, and the fact that Nobby finds them sexy is hilarious. After all of this, we will be invited to consider that the very people Grimsby has offered up to us as poor, dumb, and good for absolutely nothing are in fact the essential foundations of society. The movie itself doesn't even seem to buy it.

Grimsby is lazy, cheap, lurid and stupid. It is painfully unfunny. Worst of all, it's pointless. It's so short — well under 90 minutes — and feels so endless. I don't know how Sacha Baron Cohen found himself in this place: there may be a tragically sad story in that. But there can be no excuse for this movie. ♦

Trailer


The Brothers Grimsby
Rated R · 83 minutes · 2016
Official Site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/thebrothersgrimsby
Director: Louis Leterrier
Producer: Sacha Baron Cohen, Nira Park, Peter Baynham, Ant Hines and Todd Schulman
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Isla Fisher, Penélope Cruz, Rebel Wilson, Gabourey Sidibe, Ian McShane, Annabelle Wallis, Sam Hazeldine, Johnny Vegas, Nick Boraine, Zak Sutcliffe, Eileen Davies, Lex Shrapnel, David Harewood and Lasco Atkins

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for The Brothers Grimsby

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Political Power
  • Political Power

    Jessica Chastain is a crafty, badass D.C. lobbyist in Miss Sloane
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Two and a Half Men
  • Two and a Half Men

    Moonlight beautifully examines the intersection of sexuality and masculinity
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Man and Wife
  • Man and Wife

    Simple, non-heroic love changes the world in Loving
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
KC and The Sunshine Band

KC and The Sunshine Band @ Northern Quest Casino

Sun., Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Maryann Johanson

  • Political Power
  • Political Power

    Jessica Chastain is a crafty, badass D.C. lobbyist in Miss Sloane
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Big Themes
  • Big Themes

    Disney's Moana is the empowering and fascinating tale we need right now
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • Weird Science
  • Weird Science

    Doctor Strange features a whole lot of CGI but lacks in story
    • Nov 3, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Wanna Rock?

    A slew of '80s glam favorites come to Wreck The Halls of Spokane Arena
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Big Themes

    Disney's Moana is the empowering and fascinating tale we need right now
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Desert Rage
  • Desert Rage

    Mad Max: Fury Road will restore your faith in action movies
    • May 13, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation