The Brothers Grimsby

Movie Information

The Story: An idiot soccer hooligan ends up teaming with his spy brother to save the world (more or less). The Lowdown: A collection of raunchy, vile, gross, disgusting, offensive gags — many of which are actually offensive and funny at the same time — packed into a spy-spoof that is not recommended for the easily outraged or offended, or those with delicate sensibilities.
Genre: Raunchy Comedy Spy Spoof
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane
Rated: R



Before getting into the merits, or lack thereof, of the film, I want readers to distinctly understand that The Brothers Grimsby does everything it can to shock, offend, outrage, appall and even disgust the viewer. Know this before even considering going into the theater. This is a hard-R affront to the sensibilities. This is a movie that gets a great of mileage out of Sacha Baron Cohen and, especially, Mark Strong being doused in elephant semen while hiding inside a female elephant’s vagina. (Hey, if DiCaprio can get an Oscar for sleeping inside a dead horse …) And, no, this is not suggested, but is presented in startlingly graphic — if obviously faked — detail. Unbelievable as it may be, this is actually worked into the movie’s plot, so it transcends a random gross-out gag. See (or better yet don’t) Rip Torn in Tom Green’s Freddy Got Fingered (2001) for that. The point here is simply that if a scene like that is going to offend you, do not go to see this movie. There. That’s all you need to know.




Now, assuming you haven’t already decided to give The Brothers Grimsby a very wide berth, I’ll continue. This marks Sacha Baron Cohen’s fourth starring vehicle, and it’s shaping up to be his least successful. The reason why is something that people who dissect such things on the internet are already working on. (Face it, though, his last two movies didn’t get anywhere near the hit status of his first, so this is partially just diminishing returns.) One might note that it’s the first of his movies not directed by Larry Charles, but this film logically needed a director who understands action pictures. While Louis Leterrier may not be an inspired choice, the first two Transporter movies are sufficient cred for the purposes here.




My own take is that The Brothers Grimsby is too much like a “real movie” in terms of having something that actually resembles a plot — and that it’s too British for U.S. consumption. Grimsby, for example, is an apparently low-rent English seaside resort (though I doubt it’s the twin city of Chernobyl as the movie claims) that might ring a bell with American viewers as the title and subject of a song on Elton John’s Caribou album. (It should be noted that the song paints a much nicer picture of the city.) Beyond that, the whole tone of the film is very Britcentric. Imagine if the whole of 2004’s Eurotrip had been about Vinnie Jones and his soccer hooligan pals.




The story itself is a basic spy-spoof that Cohen and company have configured around the star’s latest screen persona, Carl “Nobby” Butcher — a loutish, drunken, drug-infused soccer hooligan with 11 kids (having names like Skeletor and Django Unchained) and a wife (Rebel Wilson). The one thing lacking (he thinks) in his life is younger brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), whom he’s spent 28 years looking for. Finding Sebastian results in discovering that his little brother is a top spy, and then destroying Sebastian’s career and making him a man-on-the-run rogue agent. Much of the plot is interchangeable with … well, the general run of spy movies, but with a terminally idiotic brother (who, of course, ends up partnering with Sebastian) added to the mix. Bear in mind, while I say this is more like a normal movie than its predecessors, that’s a very relative claim, meaning little more than it has a plot. It is unconcerned about this plot in every capacity, apart from giving the movie a shape, however rumpled and badly tailored. The Brothers Grimsby proudly wears its sloppiness like a misspelled badge of honor.




The question — crashingly crude bad taste to one side — is, “is it funny?” and, for the most part, it is. Oh, maybe no more than 75 percent of the jokes hit at all, but it’s so ridiculous, fast, crammed with jokes (mostly tasteless) and ludicrous that I didn’t mind very much. The fact that it only runs 83 minutes is certainly a plus, as is the fact that, every so often, you can’t help but realize this is a stupid movie made by clever people with a little something on their minds. Am I recommending it? Only to people who are pretty hard to offend and who can appreciate gross-out absurdity. So, if you go and you’re offended, you can’t say you weren’t warned. Rated R for strong, crude sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, language and some drug use.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “The Brothers Grimsby

  1. T.rex

    3 & 1/2?? Blimy!! I was about to pass on this one since it looked nomwhere as good as Borat, Bruno, Dictator. (Rebel Wilson is also a huge No No No) but based on this review I might check it out. I always did like Mark Strong, great actor.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.