Sacha Baron Cohen, espionage make for a winning combination in ‘The Brothers Grimsby’ | Film Review

Mark Strong and Sacha Baron Cohen in Columbia Pictures' "The Brothers Grimsby." (Sony)

By Brad Belemjian // Staff Writer

The Brothers Grimsby marks the return of Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno) as yet another eccentric, offensive stereotype that pulls no punches to stir up some old-fashioned controversy. However, Cohen is not alone this time. Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service) tags along for the insanity this time around along with Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) and Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect).

But can The Brothers Grimsby rise above its controversial nature to prove itself to be an entertaining action-comedy?

Grimsby tells the story of two brothers, Nobby and Sebastian, who are separated during their childhood which leads Nobby (Cohen) to search for Sebastian (Strong) for 28 long years. Nobby grew up to be a beer-loving soccer fanatic who has more kids than he can count. On the flip side, Sebastian became England’s best MI6 secret agent. Nobby hears that his long-lost brother will be at an event close by, so he goes to reunite with at last. However, things go awry which lead to Nobby and Sebastian teaming up to survive.

I had no idea what to expect going into this. I loved Borat, liked Bruno and tolerated The Dictator, so Cohen’s pattern led me to expect mediocrity. I am happy to report that The Brothers Grimsby is an absolute blast. From the first scene in a mattress store to the final scene, which I won’t spoil, the film had me continuously laughing, gasping, and cringing. While the laughs are constant, the action is surprisingly well filmed and exciting. We are first introduced to Sebastian through a point of view shot from his contact lens that allows the audience to be close to the action and feel every punch, kick, and gunshot. Director Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me, Clash of the Titans) keeps the camera’s movement fluid throughout the action sequences, which is unexpected coming from a filmmaker whose filmography doesn’t scream quality.

Mark Strong as Sebastian Grimsby might be my favorite aspect of the entire film. I had never seen him play a comedic role so I was looking forward to what he could bring to the character. His rigid and emotionless demeanor carries on throughout the 83-minute runtime that includes hilariously disgusting set pieces, one involving multiple elephants, and banter with his dimwitted older brother. Strong is shockingly committed to delivering the type of physical humor that even some comedians would refuse to perform. If he decides to star in more comedies then I’ll be there opening night.

The Brothers Grimsby is the first pleasant surprise this year and I certainly doubt that it will be the last. Will it be as culturally impactful as Borat? No, because it’s not trying to be. If you have a strong stomach for gross-out and offensive humor then I highly recommend The Brothers Grimsby. The chemistry between the two leads is infectious, especially when they are thrown into shocking situations where their escape is unpredictable. If you are looking for a good comedy to see this weekend, and have already seen Deadpool three times, then check out The Brothers Grimbsy.

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