The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The Brothers Grimsby

The Curious Case of The Brothers Grimsby:

The trailer for this new Sacha Baron Cohen comedy was perplexing. It suggested the film was a run-of-the-mill spy movie spoof in which a person completely unqualified to become a spy does, in fact, become a spy. (Kind of like Melissa McCarthy's Spy, come to think of it.) The very thought that the British comedian known for envelope-pushing works like Borat and Bruno would make such a standard-looking movie seemed vexing. A full glimpse of The Brothers Grimsby explains everything, though. Packed with wall-to-wall outrageous and offensive humor, there was no other way to sell the picture. You simply can't put the real jokes into a piece of mainstream advertising.

Mark Strong plays Sebastian, one of the most lethal spies in MI6. He's in the middle of a top secret mission to foil a terrorist plot when his long-lost brother, a soccer hooligan named Nobby (Cohen), finds him. Nobby, who lives in a rundown section of England with his libidinous wife (Rebel Wilson) and their oodles of children, refuses to leave the sibling he's been searching for for decades. This puts him squarely in the middle of the mission. Naturally, he proceeds to screw everything up.

The story in The Brothers Grimsby is dumb. It's generic. It's been done before, and done much better. There are flashbacks explaining the manner in which Sebastian and Nobby were separated, and the film tries to milk a little emotion from them, but they are not much more than afterthoughts. With a brief running time of just 83 minutes (including lengthy end credits), The Brothers Grimsby often feels like it's in a hurry to get itself over with. There's no significant development of the sibling backstory, nor of the theme of brotherhood that supposedly drives the plot. Director Louis Letterier (Now You See Me) doesn't show a whole lot of interest in properly telling a story. He merely sprints from joke to joke. When a movie casts Penelope Cruz as an Angelina Jolie-type actress/activist and then gives her nothing of substance to do, you know there are some serious missed opportunities.

Plotwise, The Brothers Grimsby is a mess. Comedy-wise, it's more successful. If nothing else and, really, there is nothing else the film has a handful of genuinely uproarious scenes, all of which are vile, vulgar, or both. Among the topics of humor broached are: AIDS, pubic hair, anal trauma, oral sex, Bill Cosby's rape allegations, and clogged toilets filled with feces. And elephants...I can't even begin to tell you about the elephants. A sequence involving the animals is unlike anything I've ever witnessed before in terms of sheer grossness. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't laugh like a crazy person. Sacha Baron Cohen delights in mining humor from taboo subjects. He does that very extensively here. If you have a taste for such things, there are moments in The Brothers Grimsby that will lay you out with laughter.

As hilarious as it can be, the movie is ultimately limited by careless plotting that exists lazily alongside the comedy, as opposed to actually supporting it. The Brothers Grimsby needed more structure to achieve its full potential. That makes it a mixed bag. But boy, are there ever some amazing moments here.

( 1/2 out of four)

The Brothers Grimsby is rated R for strong crude sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, language, and some drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 23 minutes.

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