March 22, 2016

Movie Review: The Brothers Grimsby

When I first saw the trailer for The Brothers Grimsby, I can honestly say I was not sure what to expect. It looked like a comic take on a mismatched buddy action film. It also had bits of a fish out of water story, not to mention a little long lost family emotional pull. On the hand, it is also a Sacha Baron Cohen film, and not one with him in it, more like one where he is the creative driving force, like Borat, Bruno, and The Dictator. Still, it pairs him with co-star Mark Strong and action director Louis Leterrier. Whatever this thing was, the trailer looked awfully straightforward. Well, believe me when I say the trailer does not even hint at what you see in the movie.

The Brothers Grimsby is not going to win Cohen any new fans, it may even lose him a few. As for me? I liked it. I would be hard pressed to call it a good movie, but it is far from a bad one, sees him, once again, pushing the limits of good taste. Seriously, there is some really gross stuff on display. At the same time, the movie has a surprising amount of heart, an unexpected amount. It is in this combination of action, gross out humor, and genuine emotion that makes the ridiculousness work.

The story really is a simple one. It is the story of Nobby (Cohen) and Sebastian (Strong) as brothers who were orphaned and then separated as young boys. Nobby has never given up the search for his older brother, while Sebastian has grown up to become a top secret agent. One day their paths do cross, leading to a mistake that results in Sebastian becoming a wanted man. Of course, Nobby having been reunited with his long lost brother, stays by his side to help him. Wacky, bloody, and gross hi-jinx ensue as they learn to be a family again and all that means.

This is definitely a Sacha Baron Cohen movie with all of the gross anatomy, fluids, and outrageousness that goes along with it. This is not one for the easily offended, but for those who enjoy this sort of thing (in a way, I guess I am one of them), this is a winner. The key to enjoying it, I have found, is not to get too bogged down in specific plot points.

The movie plays fast and loose with timing and logic details. If you start paying attention to the details, timing, why some people do things and not do other thing, or anything along those lines, you will go mad and hate the entire endeavor. This is a fast paced film that barely makes it to 80 minutes with credits. In that time frame the ultimate focus is on the relationship of the brothers, seen close as children, but separation has weakened the bond, and it is a blast watching them reconnect.

Now, besides the gross factor, the film does the action in pretty spectacular fashion. It is clearly the reason why they brought someone like Leterrier (Unleashed, Transporter, Now You See Me) in to direct. While Cohen can handle the writing, he co-wrote the film with Phil Johnston (Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph) and Peter Baynham (Hotel Transylvania, Arthur), and onscreen comedy, they need someone to handle to action in true action movie style. Surprisingly, the action is very well done, involving the use of James Bond style gadgets and a first person style that puts you right in the middle of the frenetic action.

What it all comes down to is The Brothers Grimsby is an action backed, offensive, gross out action comedy, that ultimately rises above the nonsensical plot to reveal itself as a sweet hearted tale of familial connections and the importance of family. It is a sweet film that is not afraid of hiding behind a pile of dead bodies and elephant genitalia.


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