The US title is The Brothers Grimsby, though the brothers’ surname is not Grimsby.
For the record, their surnames are Butcher and Graves, which sounds like a pair of 18th century serial killers. Or a modern day undertaker and abattoir worker who team up to fight crime in their spare time. (I would definitely watch both those films, by the way.)
Grimsby was a bomb in the US when it was released, apparently because of its overt Britishness, and I do wonder why it had a $35 million budget. They could have probably done the Grimsby scenes for 35 quid and then just paid for a few Easyjet flights for the abroad bits and an elephant. It is quintessentially, parochially British (Americans, Grimsby is a coastal town known for its fish industry, and for being, well, a bit grim); even though it careers around the world. And you will loathe it unless you enjoy that scatological, very crude, quick fire humour.
You can’t deny that from the first scene you know what you’re going to get, as Nobby Butcher (Sacha Baron Cohen) an unemployed, sideburned father of 11 who looks like a cross between Liam Gallagher and Wolverine, shagging in a double bed.
There is much moaning and groaning and writhing, and shots of fingers grabbing a handful of bedding at that moment of pure ecstasy, something normally only achieved when you’re grasping a 600-thread, Egyptian cotton sheet from The White Company. Only for Nobby to lift his head up, shouting out “we’ll take it!”, as you realise he is in a bed shop on the high street, testing out the wares.
Next thing he’s on a bus with the double mattress, heading home to his many offspring. They are desperate for space but Nobby refuses to use one bedroom, kept like a shrine to his brother Sebastian, from whom he was separated 28 years ago.
Sebastian (Mark Strong) is now a super MI6 agent. He and older brother Nobby were parted when a well to do couple wanted to adopt only one of the boys, and Nobby was left in the children’s home. But now friends of Nobby’s have discovered that Sebastian will be at a benefit called WorldCure, protecting Rhonda George, a glamorous philanthropist, from potential assassination. Nobby turns up there to meet his brother and accidentally causes the shooting of a small boy with AIDS.
The brothers are forced to go on the run, hiding out first in Grimsby; they then travel around the world in order to beat a syndicate planning to unleash a terrible virus on the world (it’s actually a much more entertaining version of Inferno, isn’t it).
The jokes are crude. Daniel Radcliffe, playing himself as a guest at the WorldCure benefit, contracts AIDS from the blood spatters after the boy is shot. Nobby has to suck his brother’s testicles after Sebastian is hit by a poisoned dart. Nobby’s inflamed and infected buttocks also make more than one appearance. At one point they hide out in an elephant’s vagina (all of Nobby, not just his buttocks. And Sebastian.) An arch comedy of manners in the style of Oscar Wilde this is not, though he might well have enjoyed it. Everyone is in the gutter, including us watching it; none of us is looking at the stars.
Do you need any more warnings about the content of Grimsby? You will not be chin-scratching while viewing, in the manner of someone reviewing a lost black and white epic from 1928. In fact the only things being scratched anywhere near the vicinity of this film will be someone’s bollocks, through the front of their slightly grubby Y-fronts.
There is though a top notch cast who take it seriously. (I’m not a fan of good actors hamming – even if their film is a complete turkey, someone somewhere, probably me, has paid good money to see it. So do your jobs, Acting Superstars.) Isla Fisher is Sebastian’s handler, Jodie. Gabourey Sidibe is seduced by Nobby. Hell, even Lovejoy is in it! (That’s Winston from John Wick if you’re American.)
The flashback scenes to their childhood, with Nobby leaving Sebastian to allow him to be the one who gets adopted, are emotional: Sebastian runs up and down the train screaming for his older brother, who has got off at a station to head back to Grimsby.
And the ending, involving Donald Trump, may well cause thousands of virtue-signalling Hollywood progressives and influencers to take Grimsby to their hearts at last.