IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 83 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Nobby is an English football hooligan who lives in the delightful town of Grimsby with his beautiful girlfriend and their nine children. He has a brother, Sebastian, but he hasn’t seen him for 28 years as they were separated when their parents died. Sebastian is actually a top MI6 agent who’s attempting to prevent an assassination when Nobby spots him and inadvertently causes him to kill the director-general of the World Health Organisation. With only Margaret in the operations room advising him, Sebastian realises that, if he wants to catch the real perpetrators of the crime and prevent a dastardly plot that puts the world in danger, he needs the help of its biggest idiot….
After offending suburban rappers, gay fashion designers, Middle Eastern despots and the country of Kazakhstan, Sacha Baron Cohen targets his most formidable group yet – the Benefits Street set. His film has been criticised by some for its supposed stereotyping of the working [or rather non-working] class. I can understand residents of Grimsby [who wouldn’t let the film actually be shot in Grimsby] getting offended at the portrayal of the town, though it’s really just Cohen doing his usual exaggerated caricatures again, while I know several people like ‘Nobby’ in my home town of Basingstoke, way down south from where this movie is set. Grimsby actually ends up more celebrating working [or rather non-working] class culture than attacking it, while its hero, who actually speaks with a broad Yorkshire accent despite being from a town that’s in Lincolnshire [I guess Cohen couldn’t do the actual accent] is revealed to actually be quite a sensitive sort who considers family to be the most important thing in life. The heart of the film is Nobby’s relationship with his long-lost brother Sebastian, a superspy who participates in a quite stunning opening action scene shot mainly from first person POV. Unfortunately, director Louis Letterier then goes overboard with sick-making shakycam, turning most of the action sequences into an annoying blur.
Grimsby feels like it’s been cut to the bone. It never stops moving, but some scenes seem to be missing footage and at times the movie is a bit haphazardly edited together. Extended version on Blu-ray then. As usual for Cohen, the film is often truly hilarious and contains some comedy set pieces which go beyond the pale for some but are praise worthy in their audacity as long as you have a strong stomach. A scene involving Nobby and Sebastian being inside an elephant while another elephant decides to have sex with the first elephant will either have you balled over in hysterics [I plead guilty] or throwing up. The amount of action though means that Grimsby isn’t really non-stop laughs in the manner of The Dictator, while there seems to be less of Cohen’s trademark subversive wit and satire than usual, partly replaced by a more mean spirited edge. It’s almost as if Cohen decided to dumb things down because he feels that that’s what people want. Still, Grimsby is fast, fun and funny for the entirety of its running time, and was certainly something of a relief to me who finds myself laughing less and less at modern comedy pictures. It even has an appearance by Rebel Wilson, as Nobby’s girlfriend, which for once didn’t actually annoy me immensely and is well judged.