Sacha Baron Cohen is known for being unapologetically controversial, particularly under the guise of his best-known alter egos, Borat and Ali G. But his latest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live may have taken the cake. Apparently the clip he brought along for his upcoming action-comedy The Brothers Grimsby was so offensive, it couldn’t be shown on-air. So, they came to a compromise: the studio audience got to watch, while viewers at home could only watch their reactions.
Host Jimmy Kimmel joined the studio audience as we saw their laughs quickly turn to gasps, shrieks, and mouths agape. What on earth were they watching? While we can hear bits and pieces of the audio, and we get to see the first few seconds of the clip, it’s clear that what’s being shown to the audience is far too risqué for network television – even after midnight.
Of course, this was all likely just a perfectly-orchestrated publicity stunt to promote the film. Cohen arrives for his interview, is told at the last minute that the clip from the NC-17 film got the kibosh from ABC, then they cut to commercial as Kimmel promises to find a solution for the angered actor. “I came here for the first time in 12 years to promote my movie,” he asks, “but can’t even show the clip?”
We weren’t the only ones desperately scouring the net following the broadcast to find out just what had the audience so worked up, stunt or not. Some news sites report having reached out to Sony Pictures for a copy of the clip to no avail. Prior to showing the clip, Kimmel even warned audience members that it was so offensive and graphic that they could leave if they wished before it started, or even during, if they found it to be too much.
It seems, the only way to discover why the film just barely made it into the NC-17 rating is to actually go see it. Stunt or not, this was genius, and right up Cohen’s controversial, boundary-pushing alley. In the words of Borat, “we liiiike.”
Grimsby follows the story of two brothers who team up to save the world from a deadly virus. Mark Strong plays a “James Bond-like” trained spy, and Cohen his idiot, “football hooligan” brother. The film was co-written by Cohen, and also stars his wife, Isla Fisher (Bachelorette, Wedding Crashers), along with Penelope Cruz (Zoolander 2), Rebel Wilson (How to Be Single) and Ian McShane (Game of Thrones, Ray Donovan).
Named after a real town in England, the movie is likely to portray every stereotype one can think of attributed to the sea port town, much like Cohen did with another controversial film, Borat. That movie had those from the nation of Kazakhstan up in arms about his offensive portrayal of their country and people.
The movie will be released in the U.S. on March 11, but will arrive in the U.K., under the name Grimsby, a few weeks earlier on February 24.