February 8, 2016

Movie Monday: The Brothers Grimsby

The Brothers Grimsby, known as Grimsby in the UK, is the newest movie from Sacha Baron Cohen.  It does not have anything to do with the brothers Grimm, as I originally thought.  The title refers to a real town in Northern England (that is reportedly unhappy about its portrayal).

It comes to theaters March 10, but I was lucky enough to catch a preview at Alamo Drafthouse.  It was a great program that included a behind-the-scenes look at Brüno before the movie and a livestream Q&A with Baron Cohen after.  It was an unfinished cut of the meeting, so we got to answer a few questions about what Baron Cohen might do for the final cut.

I was mostly interested in seeing the movie because Mark Strong (Kingsman, Welcome to the Punch) plays Baron Cohen's secret-agent brother.  The two were separated after their parents' death, and Baron Cohen's Nobby manages to find him just in time to screw up a mission that could prevent millions of deaths.

Honestly, most of the humor didn't work for me.  It's very focused on being gross, particularly in a sexual way.  I did appreciate how many of the gags became funnier just by going on longer and continuing to cross the line of good taste.  I'm probably happier than I would have been if I paid to see the movie.

The behind-the-scenes material was great.  I loved getting a glimpse at the security measures Baron Cohen uses when deliberately trying to provoke people.  He also spoke later on how safety is always the most important thing and getting the gags is second.  You know where the exits are, have a plan to get out, watch people's hands, and then try to be funny.  It was very sobering, particularly after the reveal that the racist white supremecist, F. Glenn Miller, interviewed for Brüno went on to murder three people outside a Jewish community sites.

It was also interesting, and less fraught, to hear how Baron Cohen managed to finagle an R-rating for The Brothers Grimsby.  He did it, of course, by submitting an even more outrageous cut.  The film's most memorably perverse scene is 2 1/2 minutes, but the version originally submitted to the MPAA was 11 minutes.

Even though I didn't love The Brothers Grimsby, it was an enjoyable night out at the movies.  I did love getting a peek at Baron Cohen's process.

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