Grimsby, grimness and Penelope Cruz

Arch wind-up merchant Sascha Baron Cohen has now infuriated the good residents of Grimsby, the northern fishing town where his new comedy, titled after the town, is set. This follows the recent announcement that Penélope Cruz has been cast in the film. So, what do we know about Grimsby, (the film rather than the town)?

Sasha Baron Cohen in England shirt and monster sidies

The Codheads, as Grimsby residents are known, are not furious because the film is being shot in Tilbury, Essex – i.e. a couple of hundred miles away and ‘down South’ to boot – but because the film makes the town look like a dump.

According to The Grimsby Telegraph, a Humberside businessman on a visit to London made a short detour to the film’s Tilbury location to see how his home town was being represented. As well as putting up Grimsby-style shop names, the film crew sprinkled rubbish around the streets, chucked mattresses in gardens, and sprayed ‘Hull R wankers’ graffiti on shop shutters.

Grimsby has the great advantage over other post-industrial northern towns, in that not only has it seen better days, it also contains the word ‘grim’ in its name. What is not so grim however, is the recent announcement that Penelope Cruz will star in the film. It was announced that she would join the cast on 10 July, most probably playing a philanthropic corporate boss who is not quite as benevolent as she first appears.

Set during the 1980s, the film stars Mark Strong as a British spy who has to go on the run and ends up in Grimsby with his moronic football hooligan brother, played by Baron Cohen. Pictures show him sporting a Mod mullet and super-strength side boards straight out of This is England. Other members of the cast include Bridesmaids‘ Rebel Wilson, Lovejoy‘s Ian McShane, Homeland‘s David Harewood, Johnny Vegas, Gabourey Sidibe, and Baron Cohen’s wife Isla Fisher. After filming in the UK, there will be further location work in South Africa.

To write the script, Baron Cohen has employed the talents of Phil Johnston, who previously worked on Wreck-it Ralph and British comedy writer Peter Baynham, who has contributed to Brass Eye with Chris Morris and Alan Partridge with Steve Coogan, not to mention having worked on Borat, Brüno and Hotel Transylvania.

French director Louis Leterrier is directing, which with the presence of Mark Strong suggests the film will have an action element. A product of the ‘Besson stable’, Leterrier had previously directed such kinetic actioners as The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans.

The film is set to be released in July next year, so we’ll have to wait until then to find out if the return to home territory for Baron Cohen also marks a return to form after a couple of not quite so successful movies. All this fuss seems a long way away from his first happy forays up to Grimsby last year, when he was researching the film. Whatever happens, we’ll keep you updated.

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