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The Brothers Grimsby (Blu-ray Review)

grimsby coverIt appears I have very defined limits when it comes to the humor of Sacha Baron Cohen. A lot of his edgy stuff tends to be funny in the moment, but it rarely sticks with me. Obviously that kind of humor works best for him when it’s a mix of candid moments set in reality pushed to their extremes by Cohen’s intense commitment to character. The Brothers Grimsby is more along the lines of The Dictator, as he has developed a fictional feature film with co-writer Phil Johnston, though this time it functions as an action-comedy. All of that in mind, the results are not good.

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Film:

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The conceit of the film is actually pretty fun and kind of sweet, were this film to have been handled differently. Nobby (Cohen) is a dimwitted football fan from the town of Grimsby. He has 9 children and a girlfriend (Rebel Wilson). Sadly, the only thing missing from his life is his little brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), whom Nobby has spent 28 years looking for.

It turns out Sebastian is actually an MI6 superspy, traveling the world in an effort to stop bad guys. Nobby fins the chance to reunite with his brother, only to get Sebastian in a load of trouble and cause the two of them to go on the run. The rest of the film follows their antics.

Strong deserves all sorts of pats on the back and more for putting up with the nonsense that is this film. It is not about the plot or what makes sense, as that is not the point. The Brothers Grimsby is simply an awful mess of gags that go far beyond the realm of audacious and end up falling flat because of it.

This is a film that delights in gross-out humor fitting of what Cohen is capable of at his lowest, but without any sense of irony or social commentary that makes Borat or Bruno compelling or clever. Not helping is having a story that relies on a dimwit getting in the way of the characters, causing ridiculous escalations of the plot, rather than making the antics work towards forward progression. It is one thing for characters to do dumb things, it is frustrating when it means their actions get people killed and holds everything in a stall.

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Director Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Now You See Me) stepped into direct, as he is a fan of Cohen’s humor and does his best to make the film play straight, with the exception of what Nobby gets up to. We see lots of clever and over-the-top action direction, with some concepts fitting right in with Hardcore Henry, as far as perspective. It’s actually confident to the point of making things even more frustrating, given how it is all undercut by the nature of the film and gags that mostly don’t work.

For whatever reason, this film was able to enlist the talents of Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Barkhad Abdi, Gabourey Sidibe and Cohen’s own wife, Isla Fisher. None of them are particularly bad, but they are likely not going to have this film used a reference for future work either. I guess it is worth pointing them out though, as they also deserve some kind of award for not giving up on this film.

If I need to make it clearer, The Brothers Grimsby is one of the worst films of 2016. At the same time, this is a film with a climactic joke that gives AIDS to Donald Trump (which many audiences apparently applauded in theaters). Perhaps that brings the grade slightly up, but there is really nothing to recommend here, except that I recommend you avoid any sort of YouTube clip involving Cohen, Strong and an elephant.

 

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Mostly shot like an intense action film, The Brothers Grimsby does do the job as far as providing a clear and detailed picture throughout. That may mean a key scene involving an elephant looks much clearer than you would like.

Depth: Depth is pretty great for what the film is.  A sense of space is noticeable in a film that moves back and forth between action and comedy.

Black Levels: Black levels are never bothersome. They register nicely. No sign of crush

Color Reproduction: Colors pop consistently throughout a film that moves from England to more exotic locations. Between various bits of color in costumes and the settings the film finds itself in, there is plenty to get a look at.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones always have the right amount of detail and texture to make for a pleasing experience.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing spotted.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: As stated, the film puts plenty of emphasis on doing what it takes to appear as an actual action film. This results in a good use of the lossless soundtrack to play up the big moments, in addition to all the comedy dialogue heard throughout.

Low Frequency Extension: Given all the explosions and bombastic moments, the LFE channel gets a good workout.

Surround Sound Presentation: You get a solid audio presentation spread across all the different channels effectively. The disc is mostly center-focused, but the background noises, action sequences, score and more all come through effectively.

Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue registers loud and clear throughout.

 

Extras:

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The features presented are a pretty standard collection of gag reels, making-ofs and little more than enough for fans to get some extra laughs at.

Features Include:

  • The Making of The Brothers Grimsby (HD, 11:50) – A standard making-of feature.
  • Line-O-Rama (HD, 2:21)
  • Gag Reel (HD, 2:34)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 8:54)
  • Extended Scenes (HD, 9:02)
  • The Elephant in the Room (HD, 4:21) – A look at the craziest scene in the film, which featured full participation from everyone.
  • Previews (HD)
  • UltraViolet Copy of the Film

 

Summary:

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 The Brothers Grimsby is not a good film. It take a decent premise and pushes it to extremes that even the biggest Sacha Baron Cohen fan may find disturbing. The approach to making a decent action film inside of a comedy is novel, but the jokes continually fall flat. The Blu-ray presentation is great when it comes to the audio/video presentation, but has little else to offer when it comes to insightful extras. There is an audience for this film, but I’m not a part of it.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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