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The Green Hornet

2011-02-09 15:29
 
The Green Hornet
What it's about:

Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), son and heir to Los Angeles' largest newspaper fortune, is a rich, spoiled playboy who's been happy to maintain a directionless existence. When his father, James (Tom Wilkinson) dies, Britt meets Kato, an impressive and resourceful company employee. They realise that they have the resources to do something worthwhile with their lives and finally step out of James Reid's shadow. Kato builds the ultimate weapon, The Black Beauty – an indestructible car with every weapon imaginable – and Britt decides that, in order to be heroes, they'll pose as villains.

What we thought:

The Green Hornet
, which was once a pulpy radio and TV show (co-starring Bruce Lee!), has been given a Hollywood-ish script treatment and budget, and then inexplicably placed in the hands of Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind, and the thoroughly enjoyable Human Nature), who tends to be out there and quirky at the best of times.

What results is a strange mash of Judd Apatow-influenced comedic dialogue, big movie action and strange meta-tone. Is The Green Hornet being played straight for laughs? Or is it actually just being played straight and funny?

Somehow Gondry (or maybe just the producers who demand films they finance be of a certain box-office nature) never gets the balance right between all of the above. So you get a buddy superhero-type movie with rather violent and over-the-top death and destruction; some sweet in-over-their-head situation comedy with real menace in its fights.

Speaking of which, Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou as Kato comes out of the whole shebang most intact, despite some obvious language issues. He at least seems halfway believable as a quasi-manservant who doesn't completely subscribe to his station.

Cameron Diaz – the most high-profile star of the show – is peculiarly relegated to the role of eye candy, both in the context of the movie and for the audience. Her character has no actual role to play in the storyline other than perhaps to shoehorn some irrelevant romantic rivalry that never seems convincing.

Cringeworthy, too, is a bizarre conversation about Diaz' (movie) age. In it her character defends why she's temping for a businessman at 36, when she's clearly overqualified in terms of her knowledge and value to the business. The same question could well be asked of why she chose to be in this movie. Again, you're never sure if this is a nasty but clever intentional parallel with the real world, or if it's just ... you know... in the script.

Christoph Waltz is wasted in a ridiculous parody of a crime überboss (again, when did pantomime come into this?), and so is Edward James Olmos, who somehow retains his hard-earned dignity in his few moments of screen time.

Perhaps the confused silliness of The Green Hornet can be summed up in a quote from the movie. When Kato asks whether Britt Reid knows Shanghai, Reid answers: "Yeah, I love Japan."

Some might find that funny, but the punchline is discomfiting when delivered by a supposedly likeable rich industrialist. The film may well be saying that actually, this guy is just a dumb, rich dickhead who gets all the credit for minority labour. And then again, it may not.

Seth Rogen is starting to wear thin, like what was once a very comfortable and likeable pair of jeans that's been worn too many times, and is now just coming apart at the seams.
Read more on:    seth rogen  |  cameron diaz  |  movies

kim 2011/02/04 3:14 PM
WTF??????
werner 2011/02/08 8:58 PM
A simple google search would've shown you that Jay Chou is Taiwanese,not Korean. Doesnt imbue me with much confidence for the rest of your review.
Werner 2011/02/08 9:00 PM
which makes this quote of yours all the more laughable " Perhaps the confused silliness of The Green Hornet can be summed up in a quote from the movie. When Kato asks whether Britt Reid knows Shanghai, Reid answers: "Yeah, I love Japan." Pwned
Marshall 2011/02/09 3:23 PM
@Werner My bad! Corrected. See? And I didn't even attack you personally.
Marshall 2011/02/09 3:28 PM
@Werner. Which kind of makes your scorn and vitriol a little more laughable. because all I made was an honest mistake. You just came off sounding like an angry dork. Just point out the error and we'll all be ok, dude. I am happy to concede I make mistakes.
Susannomore 2011/02/10 1:44 PM
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@Werner. Perhaps my eyes need testing, but he does say Jay Chou is Taiwanese?
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