Movie review of “The Brothers Grimsby”: This spy comedy, starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong, is more stupefying than funny. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.
Be suspect of movies that are infamous before they even hit theaters.
The “They did WHAT” anticipatory glee is generally bound to be a letdown — especially when the big joke is someone getting a disease. In the off chance that you’ve managed to stay blissfully unaware of the gag, I won’t go into any more specifics. Needless to say, it does indeed happen and it will leave you dumbfounded.
Whether or not the joke will also elicit a laugh is the big question, though. It’s one that applies to much of the humor in the movie, too, which starts out with a Bill Cosby jab and steamrolls on from there.
Movie Review ★½
‘The Brothers Grimsby,’ with Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong. Directed by Louis Leterrier, from a screenplay by Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston and Peter Baynham. 83 minutes. Rated R for strong crude sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, language and some drug use. Several theaters.
The plot finds a sweet-hearted, dimwitted, working-class Northern Londoner (Sacha Baron Cohen’s Nobby) reunited with his younger brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) after 28 years apart. Sebastian is now a top spy and assassin, with a hard-core shaved head to match his ruthless attitude.
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Nobby’s ill-timed reunion with his long-lost kin puts Sebastian’s job, and life, in jeopardy — tethering the two for the remainder of the movie as they try to clear Sebastian’s name and save the world.
Strong plays it straight but isn’t nearly as memorable as Jason Statham’s turn in “Spy.” Baron Cohen, who also co-wrote the movie, is sort of lovable as Nobby. In fact, flashbacks to Nobby and Sebastian’s hooligan youth are fairly touching and effective.
But then there’s a joke about pedophiles at Legoland, or an ancient “Saturday Night Live: Celebrity Jeopardy” riff on the word “therapist,” and your jaw is once again on the floor.
Ultimately, the jokes are more stupefying than funny and no one’s anatomy is safe from a gratuitous close-up, whether it’s that of a wild animal or an Oscar nominee.
It’s hard to give yourself over to a certain type of humor when you’re still recovering from the shock of what you just saw or heard. And boy, does “The Brothers Grimsby” push those boundaries, over and over and over again.