[Screen It]


(2016) (Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong) (R)

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Action/Comedy: An English football fan sets out to find his long-lost brother, only to learn he's a secret MI6 spy who's uncovered a plot that puts the world at risk.
It's been 28 years since Norman "Nobby" Butcher (SACHA BARON COHEN) last saw his kid brother. Married to Dawn (REBEL WILSON) and father to nine children in the seaport town of Grimsby, Nobby is a crass, but good-natured, working class dimwit who enjoys watching football (soccer). But he's never lost hoping of finding his younger sibling ever since they were separated and adopted into different families following their parents' untimely demise.

Unbeknownst to Nobby, his brother, Sebastian (MARK STRONG), was raised in well-to-do surroundings and now works as a top MI6 agent dealing with big-scale threats, with Jodie Figgies (ISLA FISHER) as his assistant back in headquarters. Nobby tracks down his brother at a London charity event put on by philanthropic actress Rhonda George (PENELOPE CRUZ), but Nobby unintentionally manages to bungle Sebastian's ordered hit on an assassin, Pavel Lukashenko (SCOTT ADKINS), resulting in a kid being shot and the leader of the World Health Organization killed. As a result, MI6 mistakenly believes Sebastian has gone rogue, and his boss (IAN McSHANE) orders a hit on him.

That results in another assassin, Jeremy Chilcott (SAM HAZELDINE), gunning for the brothers, now unlikely partners, as they travel across the globe while searching for Lukashenko. As they do so, they uncover a plot revolving around a planned terrorist attack at the World Cup and beyond, and must do what they can to stop it.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics (or are done so late the night before they open) is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

Sacha Baron Cohen returns with yet another attempt at pushing the boundaries of outrageous comedy and, to that point, seeing how far he can push viewers before they become too uncomfortable and walk away. Yet, his brand of comedy has been seeing diminishing returns since he moved from the small screen as Ali G and made a big splash in "Borat" (which made $128 million domestically).

Since then, the films where he's been the star (rather than a supporting player) have been on a downward trajectory, with "Bruno" making $60 million and "The Dictator" $59 million. It's likely that trend will continue in this flick - written by him and Phil Johnston and Peter Baynham with Louis Leterrier directing -- that features copious amounts of elephant semen and a man having to suck poison from his brother's very visible scrotum.

Oh, along with a mismatched buddy plot where two very different men -- Cohen playing the buffoon, Strong his accomplished MI6 agent sibling - who end up paired together in a high stakes action flick where the comedy stems from the above crudity, as well as the buffoon naturally botching things up but eventually getting the hang of matters to become an unlikely and unorthodox spy figure.

Aside from the aforementioned elephant and testes sucking scene, we've seen all this before, and while there's a smattering of tiny laughs here and there, it looks like it's high time Cohen find something new -- and more smartly creative -- in his bag of cinematic tricks before his starring act films start going straight to video. "The Brothers Grimsby" should have and rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed March 10, 2016 / Posted March 11, 2016

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