Tuesday, 1 March 2016

REVIEW - GRIMSBY (LOUIS LETERRIER)


This is not a lesson in how to not take offence. This is a lesson in how to take offence, a challenge to a viewer with certain sensitivities, a work of low art with aspirations to strive higher, but compulsions to aim ever lower. Grimsby starts out as a parody of a certain type of person - one not used to taking offence at all, though strengthened by a cultural aversion toward dealing it out to them - but ends up securing sympathy for this person only by denigrating others. No material should be off limits in comedy, but there's a level of respect that needs to exist, to mitigate the inevitable disrespect, and Grimsby never acquires it, settling instead for taking easy potshots at easy targets. It's a wasted opportunity to roast a target that's infinitely riper, and rawer, though not an entirely wasted one: as aforementioned, Grimsby opens with silly satire squared upon a more fruitful subject - the white English football hooligan. It's more fruitful precisely because of the respect that the film otherwise lacks, a respect that is detected early on, though only explicitly stated once everyone else has been skewered. The film is tasteless throughout, and initially yields enormous comedic value from its relentless vulgarity - Sacha Baron Cohen and co-writers Peter Baynham and Phil Johnston have the art of broad, coarse British humour down; would that their intentions were as laudable as their comedic technique. And would that director Louis Leterrier had the art of action filmmaking down too - you might imagine he would have by now, though you'd have imagined wrong. Gay men take cover, and take offence - it's about all you can do - and everyone else brace yourselves. Grimsby is a bumpy ride, a challenge to overcome, an effort to sift through the shit in search of the good stuff. It's here indeed, though in underwhelming quantity, and that's just not good enough.