4 years after The Dictator hit our screens Sacha Baron Cohen returns with his latest creation, Carl ‘Nobby’ Butcher, a mischievous born and bred resident of Grimsby. Nobby has been looking for his lost younger brother Sebastian for years, whilst living his life out in Grimsby scamming the benefits system, and shoving firework up his bum at the pub. When a friend spots Nobby’s brother and discovers he’ll be attending an event in London, Nobby goes out of his way to track him down. However unbeknownst to Nobby, his brother Sebastian is now a deadly international spy trying to bring down a criminal organisation. After unwittingly botching the job for his brother and making him a fugitive, Nobby must regain his brothers trust and save the world at the same time, just another day for somebody from Grimsby…
The start of 2016 has featured a high number of comedy films, the majority of them poor and Grimsby is unfortunately no different. It’s a highly inconsistent comedy that insists on a prevalent use of elephant cocks and tea bagging for humour, with the smarter jokes restricted to single lines. Sasha Baron Cohen’s characters have always been larger than life, and his comedy strategy to shock and awe. Though Nobby remains a wonderfully crafted larger than life character, the majority of the humour that follows just shocks and never awes. The juvenile nature of some of the humour is in line with the character himself, but when it comes from another direction it remains needlessly childish, and on the odd occasion just sick. Sick? I hear ye question, well to put it simply I’ll never understand the hilarity to be found in giving a character HIV, especially when it pertains to a real life persona.
Though there are big attempts at gross out humour, despite having a running time of 83 minutes there are a small number of actual laughs to be found within the time frame. Watching England play football for 90 minutes is more enjoyable than this. The character of Nobby is too good for the film that he is part of, and quite honestly I’d like to see some more of him but on a smaller scale than a feature film. Director Louis Letterier has never directed a comedy and it’s telling, but even with a back catalogue of action orientated films under his belt the car there is little excitement to glean from proceedings.
In 2015 we were treated to much smarter, better crafted spy comedies with Kingsmen and Spy, both of which were good additions to the genre, but Grimsby is a huge step back. Cohen remains a very smart man with a knack for comedy and creating personalities, but the humour and action on offer in Grimsby is primarily flat. Every character outside of Nobby and Sebastian are hollow, contributing little to nothing to the film. Do yourself a favour and give this one a miss, unless you have an overwhelming penchant for grossly rude comedy then you might just be at home.