Ever since British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was introduced to American audiences by Madonna's 2001 music video Music, (he's first seen doing a hum-job on the tune "Ride the Punanny"), he has capitalized on the rowdy and bawdy license that Madonna, also riding the gay liberation wave, has allowed. On his own as a sex satirist, Cohen has turned that lewdness to political use in the movies Borat, and especially the gay fashion model spoof Bruno (its only virtue was that, in spots, it was funnier than Zoolander).
In The Brothers Grimsby, Cohen portrays Nobby, the vulgar welfare-class brother of suave British agent Sebastian (Mark Strong). In this spoof of spy movies and the British social-realism genre, Cohen gets down-and-dirty in ways most heterosexual comics wouldn't dare. He outdoes Hollywood moron-mogul Judd Apatow who once promised there'd be a visible penis in each of his films--and Apatowesque movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Hall Pass fulfilled the promise.
As you can imagine, this dick-on-the-brain comedy can have a particular gay appeal, even though it's just part of Hollywood's tendency to pander to adolescent males--even aged adolescent males who are forever stuck in a horny hormone haze where certain schoolyard words or text message slang arouse snickers, erections and guilt.
Yet, Cohen fails his Madonna promise when The Brothers Grimsby avoids the homoerotic horseplay seen in Guy Ritchie's great Rocknrolla (where Tom Hardy openly flirted with Gerard Butler) or Ritchie's reboot of TV's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. where the spy team of Henry Cavil and Armie Hammer traded hot looks while wearing runway-ready fashions (it was the rea Zoolander 2). Ritchie began with a Cavil vs. Hammer car chase that any blood-engorged male viewer understood was really a symbolic "sword fight." In The Brothers Grimsby, Cohen goes for quasi-incestuous raunch--when Sebastian is shot in the scrotum with a deadly poison which Nobby must remove orally.
Not sure what political point Cohen is satirizing when he updates that old vaudeville suck-it-out routine (Woody Allen had given it a heterosexual update in his 1971 Bananas). Cohen's pretense at political satire is exposed by his pervy-juvenile obsession--especially in a crazy skit that mixes horndog desperation with racial commentary.
When replacing Sebastian on a mission, Nobby affects a Sean Connery accent and, by mistake, seduces an African hotel maid played by Gaborey Sidibe, the star of Precious. There's something both surreal and grotesque in Cohen's deliberate satire of Precious (the breakthrough film of gay director Lee Daniels based on black lesbian novelist Sapphire's bestseller). Nobby eats-out Gaby by upending her on a hotel bed; there's even a close-up point-of-view shot of her nappy punanny that can only be explained as the long-overdue satire of the cringe-worthy image that the movie Precious put in viewers' minds without actually showing. Cohen's showdown with Precious takes his Madonna debut (recall the girl-on-girl stripper segment of Madonna's video) to the ultimate extreme of politically-correct post-racial humor.
And then there are the elephant dong jokes, bukkake party jokes, and tea-bagging gags--pardon the expression--in The Brothers Grimsby. Each one visualized with brazen delight like triple-X Pee Wee's Playhouse skits. If this isn't Cohen pandering to gay raunchiness, maybe it just shows that he's a comedian who thinks with his dick. So, can The Brothers Grimsby be called a comedy for dickheads?
The Brothers Grimsby is in theaters now. Watch the trailer below:
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