Fun ‘Green Hornet’ is a Superhero ‘Superbad’ (Review)

Thursday, December 30, 2010
By Anthony Jones

I’ll start off by saying The Green Hornet is no Dark Knight. Far from it. But that’s definitely not a bad thing. Not familiar with the source material myself, I understood I was seeing a comedic take on a somewhat serious radio/TV show and comic book character. For die-hard fans of the Hornet (they’ve got to be somewhere), you may be disappointed already just from watching the trailer. I say, just roll with it. Seth Rogen is Britt Reid, a masked avenger. Based on a 2D advanced screening, here we go.

Seth Rogen in Green Hornet

Seth Rogen in Green Hornet

The movie begins with Rogen as Britt Reid, son of newspaper publisher James Reid, who never supported Britt’s willingness to stand up to bullies on the schoolyard. As an act of rebellion, he grows up to be an irresponsible playboy who still lives in his father’s mansion. I wouldn’t say it’s “spoilers” to reveal that, soon after the jump, James Reid dies of an apparent bee sting and Britt inherits the company. That’s about as serious as it gets. Unmoved by his father’s death, Britt calls up his father’s house mechanic and expert coffee maker Kato (Jay Chou) to booze and stew about how big of a jerk Reid Senior was in life. They take the Black Beauty out of the garage and from then on, they make a lifestyle out of crimefighting on a drunken stupor. Britt and Kato patrol the streets of Los Angeles as the Green Hornet and… well, Kato - beating up thugs and busting up meth labs, hardly through legal methods.

Something I enjoyed, and what sets the team of Green Hornet and Kato apart from other heroes, is that they know if they are regarded as “good guys” to the community, the “bad guys” will come after them. Being at the head of staff at the Daily Sentinel has its advantages, so they enlist in the help of the attractive Lenore (Cameron Diaz) as secretary, unknowingly giving Reid predictions of where his own alter ego the Hornet logically may strike next. Reid is his own J. Jonah Jameson creating his own publicity, and that’s a cool spin. As you may imagine, Britt and Kato clash over the affection of Lenore, trading quips, insults and eventually blows. The two have chemistry for sure.

Rogen plays a stumbling oaf, mostly, but Chou plays a great straight-man off of Rogen and he’s a badass. He also has a rap-rock song that plays in the end credits, so stick around if you’re into that. This movie convinced me Rogen can be threatening, and they don’t take it too far and make him a martial arts expert or anything. He has his moments, but he is no Batman, nor is he supposed to be. Christoph Waltz is our main antagonist, crime lord Chudnofsky, who wants to take down the Hornet and run all crime L.A. You may recognize him as Hans Landa in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, the part for which he won the best support actor award at the Oscars, and he plays a great comedic foil to his underlings and those who don’t find him intimidating. Also, look out for an amusing cameo by another Pineapple Express cast mate. You can’t miss it.

The Green Hornet is a fun movie, but not excellent, whereas something like The Dark Knight is excellent but not necessarily fun. If I could compare this to anything, I’d say it’s this year’s Kick-Ass. I wouldn’t argue that this doesn’t just feel like a superhero Superbad — it definitely feels like it’s from the same writers, because it is – but it’s the coolest superhero Superbad you could make. I wouldn’t say it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before, but it’s fairly innovative and fast-paced for just a few minutes shy of two hours. It’s probably not what you would expect. Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) does a more than adequate job directing this type of film given the tone of his previous work, not unlike David Fincher surprising us with The Social Network. I’d recommend this to anyone who doesn’t need their superhero films to be dark and gritty. Definitely entertaining and frequently hilarious, Hornet’s a great watch.

****

3 Responses to “Fun ‘Green Hornet’ is a Superhero ‘Superbad’ (Review)”

  1. Pru

    I was put off by the burger promos, I thought the chemistry between the two was flat, but your review has me curious to see it again.

    #7168
  2. keifer

    Good review. I agree totally. Not great superhero movie, but it wasn’t meant to be. I enjoyed the movie a lot and so did my wife, which surprised me. You have to have a sense of humor to enjoy the flick. It’s Seth Rogen for god’s sake. Don’t take it so seriously. Burger promo’s? I guess I missed those, I was watching the movie.

    #7784
  3. [...] you have seen the film), but at its heart it is exactly what our reviewer said, it’s a “Superhero Superbad” that works best as a buddy [...]

    #7866

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