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GREEN HORNET, THE (director: Michel Gondry; screenwriters: Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg, based on “The Green Hornet” radio series created by George W. Trendle; cinematographer: John Schwartzman; editor: Michael Tronick; music: James Newton Howard; cast: Seth Rogen (Britt Reid/the Green Hornet), Jay Chou (Kato), Cameron Diaz (Lenore Case), Christoph Waltz (Chudnofsky), Edward James Olmos (Mike Axford), David Harbour (Scanlon), Tom Wilkinson (James Reid), James Franco (Danny Clear, upstart gangster); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Neal H. Moritz; Columbia Pictures; 2011)

“A dud, that has a few bright spots.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This superhero action pic/comedy, made in 3D for its theater release, is based on the radio serial created in 1939 by George W. Trendle (the character first appeared in 1936), which much later in 1966 became a TV show, had two movie serials in 1940 and 1941, and was made into a comic book in 1940. It’s weakly written by the film’s star Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (they collaborated before on Superbad). Idiosyncratic French director Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”/”The Science of Sleep”/”Be Kind Rewind”) comes up with a dud, that has a few bright spots. It’s a dull and goofy takeoff on superheroes, that is never funny, the action sequences are tiresome, it still follows the superhero formula despite trying to be different, is stuck with a thin story and becomes increasingly annoying with Rogen’s asshole depiction of the Green Hornet just going nowhere while his character becomes more caustic. What’s even worse than the childish silliness of the flick, was that it somehow managed to make the costumed superhero crime-fighter into a grating character who never becomes likable even when he redeems himself as a do-gooder.

The spoiled, arrogant and idiotic playboy Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) inherits the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper upon his widowed father’s (Tom Wilkinson) death from a bee sting. Knowing nothing about publishing and not caring about it, Britt offers no support to the serious editor (Edward James Olmos) and keeps on the job his father’s Chinese inventive car mechanic Kato (Jay Chou, Taiwanese pop star), a martial-arts expert, because he likes the way he makes coffee for him. Kato becomes Britt’s fratboy-like sidekick chauffeur. Their first adventure together is to cut the head off the statue of his father. They invent the character called the Green Hornet, who they claim did the statue desecration. Then Britt orders his newspaper to run headline stories making out that the masked man vandal seen on security video is a dangerous criminal. Britt says he gets his thrills by taking on as the Green Hornet the powerfulbut insecure LA crime bossChudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), and in a few weeks brings down his drug operation. The smart Lenore Case (Carmen Diaz) is hired as a secretary and unwittingly uses her criminology background to help Britt plan his next crime moves as the Green Hornet. A love triangle is attempted, with the Diaz character as the sex object who Britt has a hard-on for even though she continually rebuffs him. The romantic scenes are creepy and don’t work because there’s no real chemistry with the boys and Diaz.

The gimmicky plot has the Green Hornet and Kato posing as villains, but who are really the good guys. In the end, the boys want to rid LA of crime, corruption and a crooked DA (David Harbour). The dense Britt suddenly matures and the superhero wishes to once again restore the newspaper to be a leading voice against crime and to change his shifty image so dad in heaven can be proud of him.

There are all kinds of fresh gadget weapons, a remodeled weaponized bulletproof 1960’s black Chrysler Imperial is used by the duo to take them on their crime-fighting rounds in the mean streets of LA (the car is nicknamed Black Beauty), and CG effects crop up throughout (effectively used in an early fight scene that goes split-screen). What the film lacks is a good story, a moral compass and the right casting for the Green Hornet part. It results in a deficient tiresome action comedy–a film made by the wrong people, whose talents are obviously not in action pictures.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”