Grim effort below par
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.