Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Brothers Grimsby

Like Ali G and Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen's Nobby from The Brothers Grimsby is a human Rorschach blot, crafted to suss out essential truths about the people he interacts with. But where those other two characters put their audiences in a privileged position, laughing at (or admiring the patience of) the non-actors they interacted with, Nobby tests us like a hyperactive preschooler, sometimes hamfistedly transgressive, sometimes simply mischievous, and occasionally scoring a surprisingly cogent point.

The film is an anti-snobbery stealth bomb, delivering the message that dumb jokes and other simple pleasures, and the unpretentious working-class people who enjoy them, are every bit as good as the sanctimonious elites who look down on such things. To get viewers to think about whether they line up on one side or the other of that divide or straddle it, more or less uncomfortably, The Brothers Grimsby keeps firing jokes at us, daring us to laugh by lining up one after another, many of them stupid, overfamiliar, or potentially offensive, then taking the premise so far that you may find yourself laughing at the sheer absurdity of the thing. Or not.

Read the rest in Slant Magazine

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