Grim ef­fort below par

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

GRIMSBY ( MA15+)

Di­rec­tor: Louis Leter­rier ( Now You See Me) Star­ring: Sacha Baron Co­hen, Mark Strong, Rebel Wil­son, Pene­lope Cruz, Isla Fisher, Ian McShane, Gabourey Sidibe Ver­dict: Co­hen, goin’, gone SACHA Baron Co­hen. You re­mem­ber him, right? Once upon a time, the Bri­tish- born fun­ny­man was ar­guably the most dan­ger­ous and dar­ing co­me­dian on the planet.

Though char­ac­ters such as Ali G ( es­pe­cially the TV in­car­na­tion), Bo­rat, Bruno and Gen­eral Ad­mi­ral Aladeen ( the cen­tral fig­ure in the hit 2012 com­edy The Dic­ta­tor) were un­de­ni­ably weapons of mass stu­pid­ity, there was an as­tute satir­i­cal sub­ver­sion to Co­hen’s work that could not be de­nied.

How­ever, af­ter his new movie Grimsby, Co­hen’s time at the cut­ting edge is clearly over.

Hav­ing aban­doned the mock­shock- doco line of at­tack that served him so well in the past, Co­hen opts for a rather fee­ble fic­tional ap­proach this time around. Co­hen plays Nobby, a sup­pos­edly typ­i­cal res­i­dent of Grimsby, one of the UK’s most dow­nand- out ur­ban waste­lands.

This hard­scrab­ble town, with its high un­em­ploy­ment rate and low- tono- in­come pop­u­la­tion, cops the same kind of on- screen treat­ment dished out to the vil­lages of Kaza­khstan in Bo­rat. How­ever, the abid­ing joke – if there is one – is point­edly at the ex­pense of the poverty- stricken.

While Grimsby’s screen­play labours long and hard to keep weld­ing Nobby and his brethren of Bri­tish bo­gans to a shared sense of hon­our in their down­trod­den lot in life, the join never quite holds for long.

The prob­lem here is that Co­hen’s over­all sense of hu­mour is far from be­ing on the money. The poor are be­ing laughed at here, and that’s noth­ing to laugh along with.

A plot that re­unites Nobby with his long- lost brother Se­bas­tian ( Mark Strong) – now a top black- ops se­cret agent on the run from his own or­gan­i­sa­tion – ini­tially gives off a faint whiff of funny po­ten­tial be­fore it quickly dis­ap­pears. The mis­matched duo are even­tu­ally sec­onded to South Africa on a joint as­sign­ment to stop an evil doc­tor ( a bored- look­ing Pene­lope Cruz) from spread­ing a virus that will boost her size­able med­i­cal busi­ness in­ter­ests.

Wher­ever pos­si­ble, the broth­ersver­sus- the- world- ver­sus- them­selves sto­ry­line is paused so that Co­hen can chase any bod­ily- dis­charge joke that might be pass­ing by.

For ev­ery gross- out gag that ( kind of) works – a scene where Co­hen and Strong are trapped in­side the nether re­gions of a fe­male ele­phant scores points for sheer, is- this- re­al­ly­hap­pen­ing? au­dac­ity – there are five that do not.

When the whole thing fi­nally grinds to a halt af­ter a tellingly brief 80- minute run­ning time, Co­hen’s reinvention as a slightly cooler, markedly cru­eler Adam San­dler is com­plete.

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