Title: The Green Hornet
Year of Release: 2011
Date Viewed: January 8th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Seth Rogan as a superhero? Good one, but April is still three months away. Nice try. Oh, you're serious. Which superhero is he? The Green Hornet? You mean that old TV show with Bruce Lee? Okay, I'll bite. Who's in the Bruce Lee role? Jay Chou? Who the heck is that? Who is directing this thing? Michel Gondry? The guy who did Eternal Sunshine? What is he doing making an action movie? This is an action movie, right? Who wrote the script? Seth Rogen again? Look, Pineapple Express was one thing, but this? I don't know. Who else in the movie? Cameron Diaz? What is she there for? Eye candy? Okay, that part sounds believable.
I had some justifiable reservations about watching The Green Hornet. Although the results were not as messy as anticipated, I still stand my ground that the project would have likely been better off in more seasoned hands.
Seth Rogan plays Britt Reid, a spoiled slacker who inherits his father's news media company after he dies under suspicious circumstances. Britt's lack of ambition doesn't allow him to effectively lead the organization, so it appears that stepping down is the only option. It's not until Britt meets Kato (Jay Chou), one of his father's loyal servants, that the real possibilities become clear. The pair have nothing in common except that they both appreciate fancy cars and macho weaponry. Kato's knack for creating innovative technology inspires Britt to conjure up an idea. Use the gadgets to do something meaningful for once in their lives; like fight crime. With this, a new media sensation is born. The legend of The Green Hornet; heroes that act as villains. Justice is served and more newspaper subscriptions are sold. A win-win situation for everybody.
Seth Rogen is at least humble enough to recognize that he's not superhero material, neither with image nor skills. So his character had to act as an incompetent klutz that unwittingly sabotages every operation, only to later take all the credit for any success. This kind of character doesn't really work in a movie full of incompetents, which is what we get here. Rogen's character should be lost in a misunderstood world. Instead, everyone (with the exception of Kato) acts like they attended the same school of acting. Most characters are not very likable either. I'm still trying to figure out what drove Britt to fire his entire staff of household servants. For a guy that doesn't care much about anything, he sure acted quick on that button.
Cameron Diaz doesn't do any favors for her typecast resume. Britt acts like her character is vital to keeping his operation under wraps, yet we don't actually see her do anything except participate in slapstick, tease some romance and smile at the camera.
Christoph Waltz, fresh off his recent Oscar win for Inglourious Basterds, is mostly wasted in the head villain role. His character is more concerned over how intimidating he looks instead of actually being intimidating. If you can't get someone like Waltz to keep the crowd on their toes, you're either making a parody or you're not doing your job right. The supporting villains don't add much credibility either. The opening scene features Waltz and an uncredited James Franco trading foul-mouthed insults with comical words. It wasn't funny or amusing, but it was an early indicator that nothing has changed from the usual Rogen and company fare.
That's not entirely true though. The scenes that I thought would face the most trouble, the action scenes, actually deliver. The cliches like random explosions and shaky cameras are not as overbearing as most actions scenes in this modern era. There are car chases and fight scenes galore (including another MTV award nomination), but none borrow too heavily from each other. And to be fair, Rogen's gift of comedic timing is still present. His annoyance factor will vary. Most of the good things are kept interesting enough to make The Green Hornet a worthwhile rental, assuming that your surround sound is up for the job. You'll want to use it. Trust me.