Director: Nash Edgerton
Starring: David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton, Sharlto Copley
Every now and then you just want to watch a silly movie that doesn’t take up too much brain space and is just a good time to spend an hour-and-a-half. I like to refer to these sorts of films as ‘stay at home’ films. They’re films that are best viewed from the comfort of one’s home, and that’s exactly the category that Nash Edgerton’s new sweary comedy, Gringo, occupies.
Gringo tells the story of how Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) discovers that the company he works for – a pharmaceutical company that sells a ‘Weed Pill’ – is merging which means that his job is in jeopardy despite his boss and so-called ‘best friend’, Joel Edgerton’s Richard Rusk, claiming that there’s no truth to the rumours. However, Harold’s bosses – Richard and Charlize Theron’s potty-mouthed Elaine Markinson – decide to accompany him on his business trip to Mexico to oversee the lab in which the ‘Weed Pill’ is being made. During this trip, Harold not only discovers that the rumours are indeed correct, but also that Richard and Elaine plan to fire him and that his wife (Thandie Newton) is having an affair with his boss, Richard.
Medical marijuana is already a multibillion dollar industry. Now the future is this weed pill.
Harold decides to stay in Mexico and fake his own kidnapping in an attempt to get his company to trigger the $2 million company insurance policy that was set up should anything happen to him whilst on one of his business trips to Mexico. However, he finds out that Richard had cancelled that policy due to budget cutbacks and soon Harold has the Mexican cartel and Richard’s ex-mercenary-brother-turned-humanitarian-worker, Mitch (Sharlto Copley) all looking for him.
One of the biggest draws of this film is its cast. When your cast list has the likes of David Oyelowo, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton, Sharlto Copley and Charlize Theron you know that it’s a movie worth watching. And on the whole, that is the case. David Oyelowo excels in a role that we’re not used to seeing him play. He’s best known for his dramatic parts, however, in Gringo he gets to flex his comedic muscles, and at times he’s quite funny.
The role was initially written for a white man, but when Oyelowo came on-board, he wanted to change Harold’s character and make him Nigerian, which certainly does add a whole other layer to the film. It’s very rare that we see a movie of this sort be led by a black man who’s playing an African. He’s not just of African descent; he’s Nigerian.
I almost feel bad for the guy.
Oyelowo also has the standout moment of this film pretty early on. There’s a scene in which Oyelowo’s Harold is driving to work, and he sings Will SMith’s getting Jiggy With It almost in its entirety. There’s just something amusing about watching a so-called ‘serious’ actor like Oyelowo rap along to Will Smith.
Then there’s Charlize Theron’s Elaine who steals the show. She’s manipulative, narcissistic, rude and just an all-around nasty piece of work and I loved every moment with her on-screen. Theron’s having a great time with the role and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her swear that much in a movie. It’s a brilliant bit of casting and something that I’d like to see her do more of in the future.
However, the rest of the cast deliver perfectly fine performances. Sharlto Copley is perfectly fine as the ex-mercenary, Mitch. Joel Edgerton provides a solid performance as Richard. However, I did have an issue with how little we saw of Thandie Newton and Amanda Seyfried’s characters. When you get two actors of their quality in your film, you use them. Thandie Newton is just there as the cheating wife. She has nothing more to do than that and then turns up in a fat suit at the end (that particular scene did remind me of some of those Courtney Cox fat suit scenes in Friends…)
I’ve been kidnapped! I am somewhere in Mexico with a gun to my head!
However, that’s nothing compared to how virtually useless Amanda Seyfried’s character is in the movie. Seyfried is in my mind a great comedic actor. Just look at her brilliant work in Mean Girls. She gets nothing to do in this movie, and you could literally take her character out of this movie entirely, and the film would be fine without her. It’s such a shame that Nash Edgerton (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this film was directed by Joel’s brother, Nash) didn’t try to weave her into to the story a bit better.
That said, I did laugh a lot, and as I said before, this is a perfect movie to watch at home on a Saturday or Friday night with some friends, some pizza, some drinks and definitely some popcorn. I know it sounds bad to say, but I don’t think I would want to pay money to see it at the cinema. With it being an Amazon Studios production, I’m pretty sure it’ll be on Amazon Prime Video soon, so I would recommend you wait until then and stream it from the comfort of your own home. But let me make it clear, I had a good time with Gringo, and I definitely wasn’t a waste of an evening, but it was pretty soon forgotten.