The Brothers Grimsby

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

I missed the screening for this movie, and I used it as an excuse to bring two women to see it Friday night (that’s how a movie critic should roll to the theatres). My friend Angelica lives down the street from the Angelika Film Center on Carmel Mountain Road, so that’s where we went.

It was a grim experience to watch Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest film The Brothers Grimsby.

A lot of critics are comparing this to bad Adam Sandler movies (wait, that might be redundant). A better comparison would be with another Saturday Night Live star — Mike Myers. He did such funny characters, which led to funny movies with Wayne’s World (and the underrated So I Married an Axe Murderer). Then he did the awful Love Guru.

Cohen gave us the funny Borat, the inconsistently funny Bruno, and after the unfunny performance of his Ali G character at the Oscars, we get Nobby. He’s an English soccer holligan that likes to get drunk, have kids, and pursue overweight women. And as the co-writer of this movie, Cohen seems to think homophobic and sophomoric jokes work. Here’s an example of two of the many that bombed. He looks in his younger brother’s bedroom, and mentions how little he knew about his childhood idols. They show pictures of George Michael and Freddie Mercury, and he states how his brother thought they liked women, which is an idiotic statement on so many levels. If a kid likes a singer, it’s because of their voice, not because they assume they’re heterosexual. I remember being in 4th grade, loving Queen, even after my older brothers told me Freddie Mercury was gay. Yet the audience at our showing laughed at this cheap line. At least he showed a picture of Bill Cosby and said, “And somebody liked women too much.”

We also got a scene of Nobby partying in a pub, and running around with firecrackers up his butt. Is that funny? I’m still on the fence as to whether the fire works up his rectum…[damn near killed ‘em]…at the end of the movie was funny. Yes, there are two scenes with firecrackers up the butt.

In one scene we get in the trailers, Mark Strong’s character Sebastian is shot with a toxic poison and he needs Nobby to “suck the poison out.” You can guess where the poison needs to be sucked from, and what part of the body they actually show us in Nobby’s face. That, after Nobby says, “What do you want on your tombstone?”

Isn’t that the old joke about golfers and one of them being bit by a rattlesnake and needing the poison sucked out? So, that’s how a comedian writes a screenplay, with old jokes? And it’s not funny (not to mention the fact that everyone knows that doesn’t work and is an ill advised technique to rid yourself of poison).

If they’re just going to go for an off the wall comedy that’s not the least bit realistic, there needed to be a lot more jokes. I think 4 jokes had me laughing out loud. Another two jokes made me smile, and about 50 other jokes bombed.

More examples of lazy writing involves set pieces that are supposed to illicit laughter just based on what’s shown. For example, a huge testicle dangling near Nobby’s mouth (didn’t he do that scene in Borat?). Another involves the two brothers hiding inside an elephant’s vagina. Of course, that means there’s a male elephant that starts doing the wild thing, and…okay, okay. As bad as that scene was, just the visual and wondering how they created it, made me smile; although you could see the punchline coming a mile away (no pun intended).

Most people already know the premise from the commercial. Two young brothers living in a foster home are split up when only one of them is adopted. One becomes the best spy working for M16, while the other becomes a beer drinking loser, who is constantly in search of his baby brother.

Director Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me, The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans) does a fun job with the action sequences, giving you an exhilarating POV, although later in the movie, it started to feel a bit like a video game.

Penelope Cruz (didn’t she just play a character in the bad espionage comedy Zoolander 2?) shows up as a philanthropist that’s trying to rid the world of disease. She’s not given a lot to do. More disappointing, the always welcome Ian McShane, was also not given enough to do.

There are two scenes with a boy in a wheelchair born with AIDS, and in both scenes you’ll laugh hard and feel guilty for doing so. That’s the type of humor we expect from Cohen. There just wasn’t enough of that here.

Cohen is better at skewering pop culture icons. Tackling the spy genre didn’t work the way he had hoped. Perhaps he thought he was making his own Kingsman: The Secret Service (which also had Mark Strong).

His gross-out humor can be funny, but little of it was here. Cohen’s idea of humor is having fat actresses (Gabourey Sidibe of Precious, and Rebel Wilson of Pitch Perfect) in sexual scenes. We’re supposed to laugh because we’re seeing them have sex, or pass gas before having sex. Somebody needs to explain to me how that is even remotely funny. And as I said when Wilson did How to be Single a few months ago — she needs to stop taking parts where she just acts like an obnoxious fat girl.

The Nobby character might have worked better if he was the lovable oaf he appeared to be in the commercials. He’s just dirty, greasy, stupid, and highly unlikable.

As Nobby said in this movie about the unemployed scum in his town, “You’re the people that keep the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise alive.”

Yeah, but…those are the people that would also like this movie.

I’m giving it an extra half a star for a fun Daniel Ratcliffe cameo.

1 ½ stars out of 5.

[side note: one of the women I brought said, “That was pretty lame.” The other said, “Are you allowed to give a movie zero stars? If you are, this should get zero.”]