The Green Hornet
Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz & Tom Wilkinson
Nowadays superhero films can be classified as either po-faced grit such as Watchmen and Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, or more jocular, self-aware fair like Kick-Ass and Joel Schumacher’s Batman series. The Green Hornet is decidedly one of the latter. An irreverent, breezy action/comedy/buddy film that never takes it self too seriously nor slides into pure farce, this latest addition to the genre is worthy one. After nearly 10 years of development hell, the film has finally been made by quirky auteur Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) at the helm and former schlub Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) as the lead. Neither director or leading man are normally associated with these types of films, but that just means that The Green Hornet is sufficiently different from all the Hancock’s and Spiderman’s. But in order to enjoy this film it’s essential that you enjoy Seth Rogen’s particular brand of boisterous lad humor, which he brings with gusto to Gondry’s hyperkinetic superhero movie.
The Green Hornet is the story of Britt Reid, the playboy son of a newspaper mogul Daniel Reed (Tom Wilkinson). Eschewing his father’s earnest journalistic ambitions, Britt spends his days loafing around Los Angeles in limos and throwing riotous parties as crime rates skyrocket around him. However following his fathers death by bee-sting, Britt begins to revaluate his feckless persona and take more of an interest in his cities welfare.
But his path to becoming a masked crimefighter is far from typical. Whereas Spiderman and Batman thrust themselves into vigilantism due to a thirst for vengeance, Britt falls ass-backward into it. After haphazardly halting a mugging with his deceased fathers valet/barrista Kato (Taiwanese megastar Jay Chou), Britt then (fueled by celebratory drinks) suggests something along the lines of “wouldn’t it be cool if we put on masks and beat up drug dealers”. Thus the Green Hornet is born. Donning matching disguises and prowling the streets in a souped-up Imperial Crown Sedan christened “The Black Beauty”, the pair eventually attract the attention of crime lord Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) who is seeking to abandon his straight-laced persona and adopt a more theatrical guise to cement his reign over the city.
The key to enjoying The Green Hornet is being able to laugh at Rogen’s brand of humor. Adept at playing the shallow man-child of Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, he barely alternates from that mould here. His Britt Reid is often childish, vain and occasionally a bit of a dickhead. But this means that we get a more inventive take on the stereotypical “hero”.
For instance my favorite line in the film comes as Kato and Britt are fleeing Chudnofsky’s AK-47 sporting goons. As bullets ricochet around them Kato pulls Britt into some shrubbery as cover, at which point an annoyed Britt remarks “There are thorns in these bushes!”. At times it’s as if Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David is playing Batman and if you find that idea thing amusing, then you’ll probably find The Green Hornet funny.
Rogen and Chou make a good double act, especially given the formers tendency for rambling and the latter’s lack of English. Christoph Waltz also makes for a droll villain (especially in an early scene with a camoeing James Franco), although not a patch on his Col. Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds. The only weak cast member is Cameron Diaz whose role feels perfunctory and needless: as if the filmmakers realized halfway through that the film needed a love interest. Gondry also brings his visual whizz to the film especially with the 3D, although in a much more toned down and mass-market friendly way than his previous films.
Overall it is safe to say the film won’t be included on any best of lists, but remains a fun and distracting way to spend 120 minutes thanks to a witty script and on form cast.
The Trailer to The Green Hornet