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Brothers Grimsby Review: Sacha Baron Cohen Obliterates Common Decency

By Julian Roman — March 11th, 2016

The Brothers Grimsby is a vulgar, ribald action-comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong. Cohen stars as a townie, on the dole bloke with eleven children, and a manic love for English football; finding his long lost younger brother (Strong). The surprise is that his brother is an elite MI6 agent. The pair's reunion has calamitous results that lead them on a globe trotting mission to save a beautiful philanthropist (Penélope Cruz). The Brothers Grimsby pushes the R-rating further than any film in recent memory. There are scenes that are so crude and vulgar; you almost can't believe what you're seeing. The humor is decidedly low brow, but it's pretty damn funny.

The Brothers Grimsby has a breezy runtime of eighty-three minutes. There's no fat on the bone to drag out the onslaught of gross out humor. The film also has a few big action scenes to sell the spy, James Bond satire, elements. The screenplay by Cohen and Phil Johnston is obviously centered around the comedy bits. The filler regarding the brothers reunion is mercifully quick on screen. Director Louis Leterrier smartly turns in a lean cut.

While Cohen gets all the press for his shenanigans, Mark Strong deserves a lions share of credit for making this film work. It's very difficult to play the straight man against such an overpowering acting presence. Cohen and Strong share some very intimate scenes that will have you squirming. A lesser actor might have come off as a victim or punching bag to the antics. Strong, a venerated dramatic actor, shows he has the versatility to go toe to toe with Cohen. He's an excellent foil.

Sacha Baron Cohen, no stranger to controversy or instigation, strikes a dark humored jab against U.S. presidential candidate, Donald Trump. There is a scene where Donald Trump contracts HIV. It is spectacularly offensive, but riotously funny. It's part of an even more outrageous religion and disabled children joke that runs throughout the film. The Trump scene is meant to court controversy, the specialty of Mr. Cohen. I'll assume the reaction will vary depending on the political support of Donald Trump. It is mean-spirited, but another famous Hollywood star gets the same treatment. Cohen is just stirring up the pot, which he artistically has a right to do, no matter how offensive.

The Brothers Grimsby is exactly what you would expect from the creator of Borat, Ali G, and Bruno; no holds barred with gags that obliterate the limit of common decency. It is a raunchy, hilarious romp that will have you falling out of your seat laughing. It's not remotely for the fainthearted . Don't even take a step in the direction of this movie if body fluids, animal sex scenes, or wanton violence offends you. The Brothers Grimsby is classic Sacha Baron Cohen. If you like his kind of humor, then you're in for it in spades here.

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