The Brothers Grimsby

How do you make Elephant cum not funny?

It exists and I saw it.
Reported on 22nd of May, 2016

The ethos is to see anything, and The Brothers Grimsby felt exactly like the kind of gem that one would drive out of one’s way to see. In the olden days, I would drive all over Simi Valley and gone, seeking out such choice cuts as Chairman of the Board and – in the theater – Mr. Casper Van Dien’s turn in The Omega Code.

Didn’t see it? Released in 1999, this is the film that depicts armageddon as laid out in Revelations, etc. Seemingly disappointed with waking up all alive and stuff January 1, 2000, the types involved tried to goose God into raining down hellfire by making a sequel. Yes, that’s right, a sequel to a film that ends with the end of all things. Fortunately for me, it went straight to video, and I got to see The Brothers Grimsby. Thanks God!

The Brothers Grimsby

23 April 2016 @ The Gaumont Rennes

$0.50 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


Living in France, the average drive is 55 minutes for a film (to Rennes), but I have been known to go as far as Loudéac for the somewhat anti-climatic The Martian. I certainly would have preferred something appropriate for the drive, like The Last Witch Hunter, a film for which I would gladly have driven to Pontivy or Lannion.

Not Brest. Eww.

This trip was just to Rennes, but it was the inexplicably existing Brothers Grimsby, the story of separated brothers, one lower class, one a super spy who will comedically trade places to save the world. No one else on earth would have a ticket to this prize. Would it be accidentally insane, or just weirdly good? Like every film you get your hopes for, this is what I would say:

It exists and I saw it.

Mr. Baron Cohen has made some contributions to the comedy œuvre; Borat, despite all its obvious hype, is not unimpressive. There was massive discomfort in actually watching it, and there are a lot of great jokes. One of its strongest points is the transgression involved with having a blatantly racist and sexist character, making fun of whomever it was he encountered, included the goddamned audience.

I was still moderately gleeful that France exists so that movies that in no way deserve to be seen on the big screen are on the big screen. Upon arriving, I found…people. In the theater. It was weird.

The Brothers Grimsby is not a step forward. I’m realizing now – possibly because I’m re-reading Mr. William Goldman’s swell Adventures in Screenwriting, that Mr. Baron Cohen engages in a classic dying star behavior – he gives himself all the jokes.

Note that I did not say all the funny lines.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t any. There was some mileage to be had over making fun of the chavs and such. I miss the prams being pushed by chain smoking babies in smoking prams, swearing at the proprietor as they attempt to gain egress to the local betting parlor. Sorry, kid, we don’t allow smoking.

Mr. Baron Cohen did not include that scene (though its combination of extreme and cutesy certainly means it was in a draft). Of a kind, there were some similar moderately Little Britain-esque moments to be had. But…

There’s a limit to what fun we can have in this realm, which relates to something that Mr. Baron Cohen should know: what is transgressive and what is not.

There could be a long explanation over the inclusion of elephant cum, Daniel Radcliffe getting AIDS by flying blood from a crippled child, and the lack of inclusion of other funny characters and points of view…

and there will be. Come on. I never shut up.

If I did shut up, that joke your Dad probably told you would explain the entire experience of the film:

Man One
I got a snake bite.
(points to arm)
Man Two
I gonna save you.
Man Two sucks out poison.
Man One
There’s another bite.
(points to penis)
Man Two
You gonna die.

The dialog, incidentally, is to indicate that my dad’s version made Man Two a 1920’s moon-eyed watermelon-eatin’ fellow in black-face. You know, to really sell it.

Putting the inclusion of the behind the scenes racism of my childhood aside, I suspect you thought, recalling that joke, that was pretty homophobic now that it’s year. Why on earth would I even remember it?

Because this joke, and let me be extremely clear here, is replicated word for word in this film. The film adds the insouciant touch of having a third character witness and then photograph the incident. How embarrassing! For the audience!

Having lost the thread a bit – me in general, the film as to what’s actually transgressive – let’s discuss the story, such as it is. Now I’m a card carrying, vasectomy havin’, the word ‘infantocracy’ coinin’, slightly dirty look-givin’ to your kid, but then feelin’ bad and goin’ back to my laptop, member of VHEMT, so my word on babies is suspect. So be it. When Srta. Penelope Cruz’ cameo as the villainess who, yawn, wants to kill all poor to save the world, I’m clearly rooting for her.

But this goes back to jokes, which is why, presumably, we’re here. Having babies is not transgressive, and hence not terribly funny. Srta. Cruz, making fun of the poor, is, and she could have had some awesome lines. Just as Mr. Mark Strong as the upper class brother, could likewise mock his brother’s chav ways.

You can show all the bruises from giant elephant penises, farts, rockets up the ass, dicks being reluctantly sucked you want (is that a sentence? Well if it was, it ain’t now), but there’s only one group that will find it funny. It’s the same one you’re too chicken-shit to make fun of.

Funny thing: if you did, they would love it.

The Take

It starts off pretty good. There is a genuinely fun POV action sequence that someone, honestly I haven’t the slightest idea who, put some energy into.
There are some vaguely tolerably mockings of the English working class, whose humor I can now see was nostalgia. I miss Essex trash (sorry Boulton)!
Total Profits
Yeah, how to explain this. CGI Daniel Radcliffe getting AIDS from a little kid in a wheelchair sounds funny…
Total Losses



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