Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Green Hornet

Directed by Michel Gondry.
2011. Rated PG-13, 119 minutes.
Seth Rogen
Jay Chou
Cameron Diaz
Christoph Waltz
Tom Wilkinson
David Harbour
Edward James Olmos
Jamie Harris
James Franco
Edward Furlong

Britt Reid (Rogen) is the “party all the time” heir to his daddy’s newspaper empire. He loves his dad, but doesn’t much like the old guy (Wilkinson). He is also suddenly put in charge when pop dies from an apparent bee sting. He recruits his father’s mechanic, Kato (Chou) to help him vandalize the statue built in dad’s honor and unveiled at the funeral. By the way, Kato is basically a combination of Q from the James Bond movies and Bruce Lee who, of course, played Kato in “The Green Hornet” TV series way back when. Anyhoo, while out cutting the head off dad’s statue, Britt and Kato find themselves stopping a couple from getting mugged, or worse, on the street. This provides the newly acquainted drinking buddies the impetus to don masks and try to clean up Los Angeles. Dubbed The Green Hornet after a pow-wow session at the newspaper, Reid and Kato soon draw the ire of Chudnofsky (Waltz), who controls the city’s crime and seems to be going through a midlife crisis. Chudnofsky also thinks the Hornet is trying to take over his business.

Let’s cut to the chase. If you’re a fan of the original TV series, this probably isn’t for you. If you take superheroes with any measure of seriousness, this isn’t for you, either. This is not Kick-Ass or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World which both ably spoof comic books and movies while simultaneously romanticizing them. Nor is this Iron Man with a clever, smart-alec sense of humor that fits the character perfectly. This is just goofy.

“The Green Hornet” has always borrowed heavily from the Batman franchise. However, this incarnation maintains none of what makes the Caped Crusader compelling. Here, Britt is merely a frat boy let off his leash. Even through to the end, he seems much less like a hero than a self-serving attention whore. I haven’t even mention how murder is pretty much a sport for him with the criminal backgrounds of the victims serving as his permission slip.

With all of that said, there still manages to be an element of fun to the proceedings. The jokes keep flying in, distracting us from the inferior comic book writing. Some are funny, some are not. How much you like Seth Rogen may determine how well the jokes work for you. A lot of mileage is gotten out of the inherent homo-eroticism of two men bonding over their toys while parading around town in costumes. There is also a lot made of Reid’s incompetence and the pair passive-aggressively competing for the girl (Diaz). Again, some of this works and some doesn’t.

As expected, our other distraction is the action. There’s more than enough to go around. Plenty of things blow up, lots of glass is broken and ample punches and kicks are thrown. The pre-requisite ridiculousness is present, really getting amped up during the finale. This makes it a surprisingly quick two hours. Still, if you dare compare it to other hero tales, it sinks like a canoe taking on gallons of water.

MY SCORE: 5.5/10

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