When Sacha Baron Cohen makes a movie, you know you’re in for a wild ride. Whether or not that ride is a solid one or more of a hit-and-miss affair is largely dependent on individual taste and Cohen’s ability to satirize the subject at hand.
With “Borat,” Cohen’s comedy crosshairs took aim at American culture from an outsider’s perspective. With the underrated “The Dictator,” Cohen parodied (albeit in a less focused manner) politically correct culture and oppressive governments.
With “The Brothers Grimsby,” Cohen’s satire is at its least sharp, poking fun at the stereotypes of Britain’s lower-class citizens while also serving as a spoof of the spy genre, with a lot of jokes about various orifices of the human body thrown in for good measure.
“The Brothers Grimsby” is by no stretch of the imagination one of Cohen’s better films.
While he has shown a knack for utilizing crude humor in a way that gets the audience thinking about larger subjects, that skill is relatively absent for the majority of “The Brothers Grimsby.”
Perhaps I would have enjoyed the satire of British culture more if I was a British citizen, but I doubt that even then this movie would be on the same level as “Borat” or “The Dictator.” One of the biggest flaws of this film is that it’s quite simply not up to par with Cohen’s smarter works.
Fortunately, no matter what the topic at hand is, Cohen is always able to deliver some truly memorable gross-out set pieces. Whether or not you find these set pieces funny depends on your stomach for vulgarity and your overall sense of decency. As I am easily amused by good, crude comedy (I am not ashamed in admitting I enjoy a well-placed fart joke), I thoroughly enjoyed many of the movie’s bodily fluid-inspired gags.
Some of you may be aware that Cohen recently went on Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show to promote “The Brothers Grimsby,” showing a clip to the audience and capturing their live reactions. The clip in question was too dirty to air on television, and after seeing the film myself, I can see why Cohen wanted to show this particular scene. It is without a doubt one of the most disgusting things that I have ever seen in my life, and yet it somehow managed to be absolutely hilarious at the same time. Boldly gross, hysterically funny scenes such as this are among the best parts of the movie.
Unfortunately, scenes like this are few and far between. There is a bit too much exposition shoved in for a film whose story really doesn’t require it.
Cohen plays Nobby, a lower-class British citizen who was separated from his younger brother Sebastian via the adoption process in his youth. Fast forward to adulthood, Sebastian (played by Mark Strong) is a bona fide action hero, working as a secret agent for MI6. After years of searching, Nobby finally finds Sebastian at an event hosted by the World Health Organization.