Review: The Green Hornet (2011)

The Green Hornet


Michel Gondry
Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg (Radio Series: George W. Trendle)
119 min.
Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Christoph Waltz, David Harbour, Edward James Olmos, Jamie Harris, Chad Coleman, Edward Furlong
MPAA Rating
PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content

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Comic book readers are armchair storytellers. They see what happens in their favorite stories and imagine ways to improve it and make it more exotic, exciting or entertaining. Yet, if many of these fans were given the chance to put pen to paper and enact their visions, a film like The Green Hornet emerges and fails utterly to save the day.

The story of a rich playboy forced to grow up quickly when his father dies unexpectedly forms the central story of Green Hornet. Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) has been living off his father’s vast fortune without amounting to anything. He has everything he wants, everything he needs, yet does not respect the toughness his father applies to his dealings with him. So, when James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) is found dead in his garden having been fatally stung by a bee, he inherits his father’s media empire and begins commiserating with Kato (Jay Chou), the man who makes his coffee and who ends up showing off his advanced mind for gadgets and weapons. Their unlikely friendship, a bond created over their dislike of James Reid, leads them to form a crime-fighting duo built on the premise that to fight crime, one must become bad guys.

Using his newspaper business and his new secretary Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) to build up his team’s notoriety, Britt and Kato create The Green Hornet and his sidekick (a term which Kato objects to), and start to take on dangerous underworld figure Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). Except that Chudnofsky does not like to lose control and when he finds his grip on the city’s crime syndicates is slipping, he sets out to destroy The Green Hornet.

There aren’t many big-name directors who would take on a project of this quality, destined for release in the doldrums of the year where virtually no one seems to care if the quality of the film is crap. Yet, hiring a visionary director like Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), might have seemed a wise decision, but after seeing the film, it wasn’t a good fit at all and Gondry has managed to destroy a lot of the good will he has so far built up.

The Green Hornet is riddled with plot inconsistencies; aggressive, humorless dialogue; forced, stilted performances; and lame visual effects. The film feels like it was written by a talentless teenager trying to craft the most badass comic book hero movie ever made with only a length of fishing line, some chewing gum and duct tape. But even MacGyver could’t save this foundering mess.

Rogen’s performance is quite plainly one of the worst I’ve seen. He acts like that moronic teenager who no sense of style or perspective. That he was one of the writers of the film comes as little surprise, for he plays Britt Reid almost exactly like a spoiled teen. Throwing tantrums, getting into fist fights, ogling attractive women and spouting witless one-liners in an effort to seem cool. Yet, when he digs himself too deep, he realizes just how hard being a crimefighter or even a criminal is. And so The Green Hornet unwittingly becomes a metaphor for comic book geeks with selfish imaginations. While most comic book geeks I would have given more credit than to create something this abysmally moronic, there are still too many who will and do find this kind of film engaging and entertaining.
Review Written
February 8, 2011


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  1. Imagine Will Ferrell playing Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight.
    Or to be factual Will Smith desecrating the role of James West in The Wild Wild West.
    Rogen has made a career of playing goofy, unlikable and immature characters.
    Only the title of the movies changes and the story line but Green Hornet finds Rogen trying to re-invent the talentless hack from “Knocked Up” in the role of a Super-Hero. That Rogen is totally incredilous and laughable in the role of the crime fighter is only exacerbated by his poor attempts at comedy. The profound overcompensation in making Kato almost super-human only more greatly reveals the weakness and physical inabilities of the lead character. In the end I found myself wishing it had all ended an hour earlier in the sandpit and the greatest justice would have been that Rogen had left this classic on the shelf for a more respectful storyline and much more believable actor.

  2. Good Review! For what problems it does have it is a genuinely different take on this kind of material with a firm focus on action, character and humor. No one else should ever attempt to make a superhero movie quite like this, but for The Green Hornet it works. Check out my site whenever you can!

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