Sunday, January 30, 2011

THE GREEN HORNET (2011)

Written by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg

Directed by Michel Gondry

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. January 9, 2011 7:30PM


"The Green Hornet" was a masked vigilante that began as a radio serial program in the 1930's and after various incarnations in television and comic books over the years, the character has now been turned into a dumbed-down action-comedy film that has been made to apparently appeal to modern audiences.

Seth Rogen is the unlikely star in this re-vision and plays Britt Reid, the typical wealthy, Los Angeles party boy whose idea of a good time is excessive drinking, trashing hotel rooms and bedding as many hot young women as possible. He is the embarrassment to his father, James Reid (a wasted Tom Wilkinson) who runs the town's newspaper, The Daily Sentinel who expected more from his son.

After his father's untimely death, Britt is expected to rise to the occasion and run the newspaper although he has never even read one. The paper's managing editor (Edward James Olmos) is there to try and guide Britt in to a newspaper man.

Britt fired the entire staff of his father's mansion except for the maid but discovers that the person who made his perfect cup of coffee is now gone so he had him hired back. The man is named Kato (Taiwanese pop star, Jay Chou) who was his father's mechanic and created this special coffee maker. Kato is a skilled inventor and an expert in martial arts.

After bonding over their mutual dislike of Britt's father, the two get drunk and go out to decapitate a statue of James Reid (don't ask) when they stumble on a couple about to be robbed. The two spring in to action, or actually Kato takes down the gang of thugs but Britt tries to take all of the credit. The two are then mistaken for the robbers and are chased by the police.

Later, after they escape, Britt comes up with the idea that they should team up to fight crime in the city by posing as criminals to be able to get closer to them. Kato agrees and creates a car that is fully loaded with weapons and gadgets. The two don masks and costumes and hit the streets.

The duo tear through the city disturbing gangs and drug dealers to try to get to the kingpin of the drug trade in Los Angeles, Britt uses the newspaper to publicize the exploits of the Green Hornet and hires an overqualified blonde beauty named Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) as his personal assistant who also happens to have a degree in criminology. Britt and Kato fight, mentally and physically, each other over trying to be the first to seduce Lenore but neither one of these guys ever had a serious chance.

The news of The Green Hornet certainly gets back to the drug lord and his name is Benjamin Chudnofsky (Oscar winner, Christoph Waltz) who is probably the worst villain in the history of films based on comic book characters. He is just plain dull and lacking in any personality while we have to endure bad running jokes involving his last name.

Chudnofsky and The Green Hornet share in the same goal; to take the other one down but who will be the first to succeed? It didn't matter to me as long as it would happen soon.

This is the fifth feature from Mr. Gondry, who first came to fame as a popular music video director and still his best film to date is "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" (2004) which worked because it perfectly combined his whimsical visual style with a solid, witty screenplay, in this case by Charlie Kaufman, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for this film. It appears that in order to bring out the best in his work, Mr. Gondry needs to really have a strong screenplay which was lacking in his previous films, most especially "The Green Hornet" which was co-written by star, Seth Rogen. I don't know who is more to blame for this mess, Mr Gondry or Mr. Rogen but it seems that they both had two completely different ideas on how to do this film and then tried to combine them which of course, didn't mesh well together at all. The action/comedy hybrid can certainly work, "Ocean's Eleven" and "Pulp Fiction" comes to mind, but if it's done by people who have a clear vision of the end results.

Mr. Rogen, who lost weight to be more convincing as a crime fighter, still has his one-note slacker routine firmly in place which is completely wrong for this character. This guy was so completely obnoxious and unlikeable that even all of the other characters in the film couldn't stand being around him, including his own father. I was wishing that they would give Mr. Chou more screen time because even if I had a little difficulty understanding him on occasion, he certainly had more charisma than Mr. Rogen.

"The Green Hornet" had the potential to be a fun and amusing action adventure but all that we end up with is an unfocused and misguided attempt at a super-hero franchise.

One last thing, I almost considered seeing "The Green Hornet" in 3D but I quickly came to my senses. After seeing the film. I'm even more glad I didn't waste my money because the only part of this film that would have been interesting in 3D would have been the end credits.