Review – Oh, brother(s)! (“The Brothers Grimsby”)

Apparently the MPAA board was asleep when they gave this movie an R rating, because this has got to be THE most raunchiness, disgusting, and most ludicrously unfunny spy comedy I’ve seen in a very long time. How it escaped an NC-17 is beyond me. But, that being said, it does sport some decent direction, so points for that.

Sebastian and Carl “Nobby” Butcher (uh, tell me again WHY they’re called ‘the Grimsby brothers‘?) are separated as kids (as we see in frequent flashbacks) and grow up with very different lifestyles. Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) is a lazy East End Londoner soccer hooligan who’s married to over-sexed and plump Dawn (Rebel Wilson) and has eleven kids. They live in the fishing village of Grimsby (hence the name?) full of drunk soccer party losers and foul-mouthed violent children. Meanwhile, Sebastian (Mark Strong), is a covert super-spy that works with the MI-6 head (Ian McShane) and cute personal assistant, Jodie (Ilsa Fisher).

After 28 years of separation, a chance encounter by a friend leads Nobby to find his long-lost brother at a rally for ridding the world of disease, lead by Rhonda George (Penelope Cruz). Sebastian’s mission of trying to find and take out an assassin is an epic fail as Nobby bungles his bro’s assignment and gets him accused of murder! All hell breaks loose as Sebastian’s mission is way compromised, leading the two newly reunited brothers to flee for their lives.

Trying to figure out what went wrong and who was behind the assassination plot, the brothers Butcher (well, that IS their names!) go to Africa for clues and discover, thanks to a local drug kingpin (Barkhad Abdi), that a deadly virus is going to be unleashed at the World Soccer Final in Chile.

Naturally, the boys go to Chile to stop the virus being launched into the atmosphere (via fireworks), but find out (horrors!) that it was evil Penelope all along who was behind the plot! They take out Penelope (sort of) and stop the firework missiles from igniting by. . . well, by sitting on them and letting them explode up their wazoo’s. And that’s the least offensive moment in the movie!

With a terribly mediocre and ridiculously offensive screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen and Phil Johnston, the entire existence for this film is to get from one gross-out gag to the next. And, boy! Are they ever GROSS! Each one tops the next in a game of “can you out-gross this?” The worst (and singular disgusting) deals with the guys inside an elephant and a precocious pachyderm on the prowl. How did the MPAA ever give this part an R? Seriously! There are many, many other parts that are just as bad, but it wouldn’t have so bad if any humor followed. It just wasn’t there. As an actor, Baron Cohen can be wickedly funny, but as a writer, his ‘humor’ is strictly in the toilet—literally.

The director, Louis Leterrier however, knows his stuff. The only redeeming value in this cesspool of nausea was the direction, which boasted some damn fine ‘first-person’ POV shooting (much like the upcoming Hardcore Henry movie), obviously filmed with a Go-Pro camera. He really knows how to set-up a shot and deliver some spectacular visuals; it’s a shame his talents were wasted on this schlock-fest, as were the talents of Mark Strong, who has done much better. You can see he looks mighty uncomfortable being in this movie. Hey, who could blame him!


The Brothers O’Toole  (1973)
Wacky you want? Wacky I got! Back in the 70’s a weird sorta movie came out starring John Astin (from TV’s Addams Family) and a host of other noted television B-actors (I won’t say has-been’s, ’cause that wouldn’t be kind), including Astin’s real-life wife, Patty Duke in a cameo (herself a star of her own TV series) and Hans Conried (of the 50’s Danny Thomas TV show)
This Western story is about two brothers on the lam in Colorado: Michael and Timothy O’Toole. Michael (Astin) is a huckster, card-playing, thesaurus-spewing know-it-all who’s all but penniless thanks to a rigged card game. His idiot brother Timothy (Steve Carlson) is a womanizing ne’er-do-well who escapes a shotgun wedding. Both meet up in the practically dead mining town of Molybdenum, which none of the residents can pronounce, so they all call it “Molly-be-damned”. Problems start immediately as Michael is jailed in a case of mistaken identity.
The crooked Mayor (Jesse White) and dim-witted town sheriff (Allyn Joslyn) are convinced that Michael is the notorious “Desperate” Ambrose Littleberry (also played by Astin). But at the trial (where the real Ambrose shows up in disguise), Mrs. Littleberry (Lee Meriwether) realizes the mistake and Michael is set free. But, not wanting to sue and seeing an opportunity, Michael and Timothy decide to open up a town gambling hall. More problems arise when Michael is arrested… again… but for running out on Timothy’s womanizing ways.
The third act is a real deus ex machina written in to tie up loose ends as Hans Conried shows up as pompous Polonius Vandergelt, the richest man in Colorado. He’s told the towns’ vast supply of Molybdenum ore is “useless”, but (waddaya know!!) it’s actually worth untold millions! Every resident in town is now filthy rich and the Brother’s O’Toole leave town just in case something else goes wrong!

Written by Marion Hargrove (who wrote mostly TV shows like Fantasy Island and The Waltons) and playwright Tim Kelly (who cranked out over 300 plays!), this rather sad little comedy tries way too hard to be funny, and never gets there. Bogged down with dumb dialogue, clichés of every kind, a very strange plot, and that terrible ending, make this a movie that Astin would rather forget.

The director, Richard Erdman, an accomplished actor himself, only directed two other movies and some Dick Van Dyke TV shows, so his techniques behind the camera weren’t solid. This was a shame because there was some real potential in the ludicrous script to have some crazy fun with the characters that wasn’t explored. Astin was able to spew some eloquent “cuss words” in a key scene soliloquy, but that’s about the only humorous part of the film.

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