I don’t want to be too humourless about this, because I did laugh a couple of times and frankly if you’re a fan of Borat and Bruno and other Sacha Baron Cohen fare, you’ll know what you’re in for and may find this hilarious. But I have a harder time finding scatological humour remotely entertaining and certainly Grimsby’s endless fascination with genitals and backsides and bodily fluids flogs its jokes to the bitter end – but again, some people like that. So Cohen (who co-wrote the script) gets one star for pushing boundaries.
Grimsby’s other star is divided equally between its supporting cast of foul-mouthed little tykes (whom you wish were completely fictional but similarly-set movies like This is England assure us that sadly they’re not) and the writing team who manage to smuggle in several good ideas amidst the bubble-wrap of tacit fat-jokes and wasted cameos by Oscar-nominees. (Heck, at least this film gives two roles to people of colour. If they weren’t cast as a drug dealer and a maid, that’d almost be worth a half star, right there.)
The good stuff includes the touching brotherly love between Nobby (Cohen) and Sebastian Butcher (Mark Strong, playing it admirably straight) who are wrenched apart as children and don’t find each other for nearly thirty years, when the daft one botches the clever one’s attempt to foil an assassination. Gamer’s-eye action sequences are well-handled, and the story mercifully efficient. That I scrawled in my notebook “Are you serious??” during one outrageous scene is probably all the recommendation Grimsby’s target audience needs.