90 minutes is the perfect length for a comedy. Look at comedies like Anchorman 2 or This is 40, which, whilst funny in places, tried and failed to spread their jokes across a running time that didn’t best suit their respective gag quota. Grimsby, the latest comedy to star master of comedic disguise Sacha Baron Cohen, doesn’t share this problem. If anything, the problem it has is that it’s too short.

Director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Now You See Me) keeps everything moving at a brisk pace, but with the film only running for a quick 83 minutes (including end credits), every set-up, narrative thread or side-plot feels rushed. The script almost chokes as it tries to spout exposition fast enough, resulting in a very rushed final cut.

Grimsby Review

 

That’s not us saying that Grimsby should be longer though. The film is a mess, start to finish. Jokes that are genuinely funny are few in number, and those that do somehow manage to land leave a sour taste in the mouth. There’s nothing wrong with bad taste jokes as long as they are clever, but Grimsby doesn’t even try to be smart, instead ticking off standard gross-out jokes one after another with little thought or care for originality or intelligence. Its by-the-numbers plot of a chav from the town of Grimsby discovering his long-lost brother is a tough secret agent is hardly riveting either, and unlike recent spy movie shakers like Kingsman, offers nothing clever or new in terms of spoofing or satirizing the spy genre.

Likewise, Cohen’s latest comic creation, the footie-obsessed benefit fraud Nobby Butcher, is nothing special, as compared to his more successful characters like Borat or Ali G. A walking, talking stereotype of a working class northerner, his character fails to elicit much in the way of warmth or humour, and lacks the satirical punch of Cohen’s previous screen incarnations. Mark Strong plays the straight man role of secret agent Sebastian well enough, but with only a barrage of knob jokes to react to, his performance soon numbs, ultimately failing to keep the audience’s interest engaged.

Grimsby Review

It’s a film put together with the film equivalent of string and superglue. A planned cameo by a major celebrity is performed with a terrible, unconvincing lookalike (clearly the actual celeb saw the script and ran), whilst other special effect scenes look cheap and fake.

If you have to brave the cinema this week, be mindful of Grimsby. Yes, it’s a short watch, great if you have shopping to do, but unfortunately, you’ll get little in the way of laughs from this misshapen, rush job.