After slogging through the very expensive, very polished but somehow very clunky superhero adventure The Green Hornet, I have one burning question still as unsettled as an emerald sting: Is The Green Hornet supposed to be an idiot?
Star Seth Rogen certainly plays him as such. As Britt Reid, a newspaper heir/party boy whose life is turned upside down when his father (Tom Wilkinson) dies, Rogen’s character would seem to be a good fit for your average comic book hero; unpleasant misfit sheds his selfish nature when he learns to use his powers for good.
The trouble is, Reid doesn’t have any powers. He is fortunate to have a sidekick, Kato (Jay Chou), a mechanical genius and martial arts expert, who does everything — soups up their rides, tinkers with their weapons and kicks bad guy butt. Truth be told, if Kato had the cash to bankroll vigilante affairs, he wouldn’t need the Green Hornet at all. But, before I stray too far off the topic, an even bigger problem for Reid … he never does change. Even at the peak of tangling with criminals, the guy’s not only a jerk … he’s self-centered, egomaniacal (for no good reason) and mean to his partner. He’s also a buffoon. So — again — the question is … is The Green Hornet meant to play this way?
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m too busy mentally wrestling over whether this should be a stoner comedy or a faithful homage to the radio serial and ‘60’ TV series that I’m not getting something. Maybe faithfully green fanboys (if there ARE any for the Hornet) will dig what Rogen and company did here. After all, the flick’s not a total dud. Director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) stuffs so many fight sequences (and, thanks primarily to Chou’s enthusiasm, they’re good ones too), car chases and set destruction into the picture, you won’t nod off. How could you with how noisy this thing is?
Cameron Diaz wanders on and off the screen as Britt’s secretary, looking more and more out-of-place with every appearance. And the primary antagonist, a Russian crime kingpin named Chudnofsky (Christopher Walz of Inglourious Basterds), would probably be more intimidating with an actual personality.
So, for the most part, we’re left with Rogen and Chou, sharing inane chatter with such juvenile zeal, I had to look over the credits twice just to make certain that Judd Apatow or Adam Sandler didn’t have a hand in this somewhere.
Iron Man, Spider Man and a handful of others have demonstrated that you can have a movie in which your hero throws some weight around, yet finds opportunities to be funny. It just can’t be overdosed on dumb. But then perhaps that’s how this team wanted it.
Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give The Green Hornet a two and a half.
The feature is currently playing at the Pen-Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.
Jason Armstrong is a movie reviewer living in the Okanagan.