The Brothers Grimsby

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Adam R. Holz

Movie Review

Nobby Butcher is mostly content with his life. And why shouldn’t he be? He’s a working-class bloke who enjoys the simple pleasures of working-class life in grimy Grimsby, England. (“Twin city to Chernobyl,” the town’s sign proudly proclaims.)

What are those simple pleasures, you ask? You know, stuff like drunkenly launching fireworks from his bare backside, aiming them at his equally inebriated friends at the pub when their soccer team wins a big match. Also, lots and lots of sex with his wife, Dawn—even giving a mattress a good “test drive” with her at the store before committing to buying it. And, of course, spending “quality” time with his 11 children, who bear names like Skeletor, Django Unchained, Gangnam Style, Britney and Stella Artois, and who all just love watching Breaking Bad with their doting, devoted dad.

But there’s one thing that’s not OK with Nobby, and it hasn’t been for a very long time: his separation from his beloved brother, Sebastian.

Inseparable buds as kids, Nobby and Sebastian began their hard-knock childhood together in an English orphanage. Then fate cruelly separated them, leaving poor Nobby behind in Grimsby while Sebastian went on to a posh life in London, never to be seen or heard from again.

Nobby’s never forgotten his brother, never quit looking, never quit hoping for a reunion. And then he finds him!

It turns out, though, that Sebastian Graves isn’t much like his older brother at all. You see, Sebastian’s become a superspy secret agent for Britain’s famed espionage agency, MI6. When it comes to taking out bad guys, there’s no one better.

Well, usually.

But not this time. When Nobby finally finds Sebastian—who’s urgently trying to identify a hit man plotting to assassinate famous philanthropist Rhonda George—things go awry. Very awry. As in Sebastian-accidentally-murdering-a-World-Health-Organization-executive awry.

Soon Sebastian’s on the run and being hunted by the suits at MI6, who are convinced he’s gone rogue. The superspy must evade their pursuit and track down the nefarious criminal mastermind plotting to unleash a biological toxin intended to wipe out 2 billion people. Good thing Sebastian’s got his dimwitted-but-affectionate brother, Nobby, to help him when the chips are down. And, believe me, the chips are definitely down in The Brothers Grimsby.

A long, long, long way down.

Positive Elements

Nobby loves his wife, his kids and his brother, and he repeatedly says there’s nothing more important than taking care of your own. “You know, family: It’s the greatest gift in life,” he says. His devotion to Sebastian eventually thaws the stony agent’s violence-hardened heart, and the good-guy-gone-bad-gone-good-again realizes how much he still cares about Nobby, too.

Spiritual Elements

Nobby is nominally Catholic. We see him cross himself once. He exclaims “Praise the Lord!” once as well and quips about the “Lord’s green earth.” He makes an exceedingly crude joke imagining what the Scriptures and Jesus might have said about a graphic sexual encounter between two brothers. Nobby and his wife’s obvious inattention to birth control, along with scenes showing other very large families, seem to be included to mock both the working poor and Catholicism.

Sexual Content

The Brothers Grimsby pushes the boundaries of what can be shown on mainstream movie screens in unimaginably graphic ways. Except for the fact, of course, that the filmmakers not only imagined these things, but filmed them.

One such mindboggling scene involves the brothers taking “refuge” inside a female elephant’s uterus, where they end up on the receiving end—displayed with jaw-dropping explicitness—of two male elephants’ mating behavior, shall we say. Nobby also repeatedly sticks his head out of the animal’s vaginal opening. Equally obnoxious and outrageous is a scene in which Nobby’s forced to suck out a deadly toxin that’s been injected into his brother’s crotch. Again, the scene is so graphic in its anatomical depictions that I’m left wondering if there’s anything at all the MPAA might think is still out of bounds. Nobby and Sebastian take a bath together, and both men’s bare backsides are at times partially visible.

A woman’s pubic hair is shown when Nobby tries using seduction as an information-getting tool. (He’s performing oral sex.) He also ends up with a man’s pubic hair on his face during a waxing incident gone bad. One woman wears a skimpy bra and underwear. Several are shown topless. A female “famed for her promiscuity” tries (unsuccessfully) to seduce Nobby with dirty talk. There’s the implication of him having a “fat” fetish. Also, we hear about sex trafficking, sexual assault and rapists.

As mentioned, Nobby and Dawn have sex on a mattress in the store—in public. (We hear explicit sounds while the camera focuses on their faces.) A conversation between Nobby and his wife revolves around oral sex. We see Nobby’s teen daughter making out with a boyfriend and learn that he’s also already a grandfather. There are visual gags suggesting erections and masturbation. One sick scene involves a cardboard cutout of an impoverished African boy.

Violent Content

Fistfights, broken bones, shoot-outs, dramatic falls and vehicle chases abound. Quite a few lives are claimed. And Nobby finds that he really likes shooting people, casually using a pistol to dispatch seven or eight. One of those victims is left with a gaping red hole in the back of his skull after Nobby shoots him at point-blank range.

Nobby tries unsuccessfully to close the eyes of an assassin who’s been killed. A boy in a wheelchair gets lobbed from the upper deck of a soccer arena, falling on someone. The same boy—who has HIV and AIDS—gets accidentally shot, with blood from the wound spraying into the mouth of Daniel Radcliffe. Something similar happens to Donald Trump. A man falls and is impaled on a spiked helmet. At least two people get blown up by rockets (and we see severed limbs of one flying about, while the other is a woman in her underwear). Nobby encourages his children to attack armed men who are pursuing his brother, telling them that if they can stop the intruders, “I promise I’ll burn your school down.” Baddies get kicked in the crotch repeated by Nobby and his boys. A dog is hurled from a window onto someone.

Oh, and I wasn’t kidding when I told you about Nobby dropping his drawers and sticking a firework up his rear at a bar. Later, Sebastian and Nobby realize that a plot to infect the world with a pathogen involves launching it via fireworks at a huge soccer match. To stop the scheme, both men shed their pants and sit on the rockets, which launch them far into the air. We later see a graphic shot of what Nobby’s rocket did to his rectum.

Crude or Profane Language

About 20 f-words and a written s-word. “A–,” “a–hole,” “b–ch,” “b–tard,” “tw-t,” “t-ts,” “b-gger” and “b-llocks” are all uttered, some them more than once. We see at least four obscene hand gestures. God’s name is abused 10-plus times, Jesus’ name once or twice.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Nobby and Sebastian meet several drug dealers in South Africa and learn that one of them is a “mule” who’s smuggled heroin in his rectum. We see packets of their drugs, and Nobby’s given a syringe full of heroin as a present—which Sebastian accidentally uses. Sebastian also injects himself with a drug to help (he says) calcify and stabilize a broken bone.

Nobby and Sebastian smoke multiple cigarettes simultaneously after really bad stuff happens to them. Nobby tells one of his young sons, “I told you not to smoke.” To which the boy responds, “I thought you just meant crack.” Nobby and his friends drink (and get drunk) repeatedly and almost continuously (downing beer, wine and shots).

Other Negative Elements

We hear lots of details about excrement and passing gas. Also urination. Nobby’s children try to toss coins into the massive hole in their dad’s backside that was left by the exploding fireworks.

Though the film ostensibly tries to say positive things about the working class at the very end, mostly it just uses poor people for cheap jokes, repeatedly labeling them “scum.” Nobby brags about how shaving one of his kid’s head has allowed him to successfully scam the welfare system by claiming the boy has leukemia. People with mental challenges are also laughed at.


Shock-schlock provocateur Sacha Baron Cohen seems incapable of creating anything less than incomprehensible foulness. Borat. Brüno. The Dictator. This time it’s James Bond meets Dumb & Dumber meets Jacka– in a sendup that will leave moviegoers gagging. Or worse.

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Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.