"The Brothers Grimsby" is hitting the DVD market just two months after it was in theaters. Wonder why?
It's a film that doesn't know what it wants to be -- an action film or a comedy.
Sacha Baron Cohen, best known as Borat, plays Nobby, a British football fan who longs to see his brother. Separated as children, they pursued much different paths. Nobby married and had nine kids (and a couple of grandchildren); Sebastian (Mark Strong) became a high-level spy. Twenty-eight years later, the two reunite, much to the latter’s dismay.
Because Nobby is such a screw-up, he hugs Sebastian at the wrong time. Sebastian accidentally shoots a young HIV patient, arouses suspicion and is forced to run for cover when authorities move in.
There’s a bad guy element to the do-gooders, too, which puts Nobby and Sebastian in a different light. Their goal is to solve a larger problem, regain their standing and move on.
Nobby, of course, wants his new-found sibling to meet the family – lusty wife Dawn (Rebel Wilson, who should be in more of this film), the kids (named everything from Skeletor to Django Unchained) and the fellow pub crawlers who live for football.
Forced to hide out in South Africa, the two find refuge inside a female elephant. There, director Louis Leterrier unleashes his most outrageous bit. It’s something Jim Carrey did years ago, but it’s still gross and likely to confirm Baron Cohen detractors’ suspicions.
There are other lewd jokes that don’t quite land and a pop culture sensibility that could easily make “The Brothers Grimsby” as dated as “Hot Tub Time Machine.”
Strong gamely goes along with some of the more unnecessary jokes and looks like he could actually play a spy in a James Bond film. He doesn’t exactly steal the spotlight from Baron Cohen, but he abets him nicely.
The film’s women – from Penelope Cruz as an actress working to help AIDS-infected children to Isla Fisher as one of Strong’s biggest allies – are given next to nothing to do. Clearly, this is a two-hander, largely constructed to offer Baron Cohen one more character playground.
Nobby is an interesting choice. He’s not quite as laughable as Borat or as politically incorrect as Ali G., but he does bring sporadic laughs.
“The Brothers Grimsby” goes wrong when it tries to suggest we’ll be rolling in the aisles over its AIDS jokes or political humor.
Because Baron Cohen and company can’t abandon a weak concept, it just sits there. Had he and Leterrier shown more of Nobby’s home life, the rest of the film wouldn’t have seemed so hollow.
This is like a stump just waiting to be dug up.