When Sacha Baron Cohen’s name is attached to anything, you know its going to settle for the outlandish, if not anything.
Grimsby is the Borat and Ali G actor’s latest ludicrous film project, and one which looks more polished from the outside than anything he’s done before, but is more ridiculous and shocking than all his previous works combined.
For a bit of background, the film follows Nobby Butcher (Cohen), a football hooligan living in the rough-part of town in Grimsby, a working-class footie-crazed dockside haven for its rough-around-the-edges inhabitants. After 25 years, Nobby is reunited with his estranged brother Sebastian (played by Mark Strong) – an elite spy who’s as clean-cut as they come, and who has detached himself from his hometown of Grimsby.
What follows is a buddy-spy comedy, of sorts, that counldn’t have a stranger contrast of characters. The result is hilarious, with Nobby’s happy-go-lucky Grimsby lifestyle colliding with Sebastian’s methodical world of espionage and tactics. Of course, things go upside down very quickly and Nobby is forced to try his hand at being a spy himself, even attempting to pull off a secret mission in South Africa, which is a nice local touch. This isn’t exactly a new genre, as the spoof-spy comedies have been coming in hard and fast in recent years, but its Cohen’s complete lack of rules or any form of boundaries, along with his knack to push the limits, that make Grimsby stand out.
That, and the fact that Mark Strong, an actor who, while has had a few off-centre roles, is traditionally very serious, is thrust into the most abhorrent and absurd scenarios that you can’t help but laugh at. Add in Cohen’s over-the-top caricature and it’s a recipe for disaster, in the best of ways though.
Strong’s humourless, deadpan reactions to Cohen’s self-sabotaging idiocy is the real meat of the film, giving Cohen the reins to feed off his chemistry and bounce off of him, making for quite a few touching family moments, wrapped up in some swearing and rude gestures.
As for the jokes, the movie goes from the grotesque to the outright cringe-worthy, with one of the most horrendous scenes that will leave you so gobsmacked that you’ll have nothing left to do but laugh, testing the lengths of your funny-bone as you choke on your popcorn and wipe away the tears.
But beneath all the gratuitous insanity is a humorous yet apt look at the inequality of class in England (and the world for that matter); and even if you struggle to believe it, Cohen’s subliminal brilliance shines through, even if it is surrounded by dick jokes and outrageous slapstick gags.
Grimsby hits cinemas today, 26 February.