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Overall Rating
3.58

Awesome: 18%
Worth A Look46%
Average: 22%
Pretty Bad: 4%
Total Crap: 10%

5 reviews, 20 user ratings


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Green Hornet, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Oh, come on. It's a Michel Gondry superhero film."
5 stars

If any humorless fans of "The Green Hornet" in its past incarnations have complained at all that the new movie desecrates or disrespects the character, I'd rather not hear about it.

The material, which started as a radio show in 1936, has always been goofy kids' stuff. And after about a decade of grim, scowling superheroes in movies, we could use some goofiness. When I heard that The Green Hornet was being adapted by Seth Rogen (star and co-writer) and Michel Gondry (director, responsible for any number of whimsical art flicks), I figured it would be a big, amiable plaything. What I didn't predict was that so many critics would piss on the party. Is everyone sick of superhero movies? This one's more of a Seth Rogen take on superhero movies, so maybe everyone's sick of Seth Rogen.

Anyway, the movie isn't just Seth Rogen bumbling through half-assed superheroics; it's considerably quirkier than that, starting with Christoph Waltz as a crime lord who cares a little too much about his image he worries that he's not scary enough. Actually, the bad guy's preoccupation mirrors that of Britt Reid (Rogen), who inherits his dad's newspaper and promptly uses it to pump up his own image as the crime-fighting Green Hornet, though the image he wants to project is that of a mysterious criminal. Britt is more or less incompetent, always rescued by his "sidekick" Kato (Jay Chou), yet insists that he's the hero. Well, his inherited money does bankroll the enterprise. He's the hero in the same way that Dino DeLaurentiis "made" Blue Velvet.

With false images pinwheeling around inside a spoof of false images (i.e., the superhero genre), The Green Hornet emerges fully as a Michel Gondry installation project, with scruffball humor added by Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg. Rogen's usual man-child takes his place alongside Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jack Black in Be Kind Rewind, and so on. (No need for a Be Kind Rewind "sweding" of The Green Hornet, which essentially swedes itself; it feels like a bunch of people dicking around on the backlot.) The spirit of play is high; the movie both thumbs its nose and tips its hat at masked heroics, like Frank Miller's equally misunderstood The Spirit.

The first thing we see is Britt, as a boy, flying a caped superhero action figure out the window of his father's limo. Impatient Dad (Tom Wilkinson) soon deposits the toy's head in the trash young Britt has gotten in trouble at school again, trying to defend the honor of some girl. (Thankfully, this girl doesn't turn out to be the movie's sole female with a speaking part, Cameron Diaz, who in any event is viewed in the film as nearly asexual.) Britt later, as an "adult," recounts this event sadly to Kato, who has suffered far more in his life. Britt doesn't have that insight, but that doesn't mean the movie doesn't. By projecting the "hero" as an overgrown, semi-obnoxious little boy, the film cuts to the quick of most adolescent power fantasies (Diaz' secretary with a minor in criminology calls this out, too) and critiques such romping rich boys as Iron Man's Tony Stark, who is basically Britt Reid with cooler armor (and a similarly underappreciated non-white "sidekick").

With a $34 million opening-weekend take on 3,500 screens, The Green Hornet may well be Michel Gondry's most elaborate meta-joke on escapist infantilism. (It's also, at an estimated $125-150 million budget, the biggest joke he'll ever be allowed to play.) At the same time, Gondry admires Britt's efforts to remake himself and loves Kato's ingenuity (Kato builds an infinite number of gadgets, including a high-tech cappuccino machine, in addition to being a martial artist). And where else are you going to see Christoph Waltz firing a double-barreled handgun while insisting on being called Bloodnovsky, or David Harbour doing a pitch-perfect Charles Grodin turn as a weaselly district attorney (take that, Harvey Dent), or incriminating evidence hidden in a zip drive shaped like a piece of sushi?

"The Green Hornet" is ultimately a cult film, teeming with strangeness, to shelve alongside Rogen's other cracked ode to heroism, "Observe and Report." The 3D doesn't do a whole lot for it, but doesn't spoil the fun either.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=19313&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/17/11 09:28:40
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User Comments

9/02/14 Doug Funny stuff 4 stars
6/03/11 gc Just couldn't get into the whole superhero "comedy" decent rental tho 3 stars
5/26/11 Glenn Laurence Hardy Junior this movie was pretty good. there was like no 3D though!(you should friend me on facebook!) 4 stars
5/17/11 Roy Smith Seth does slacker/stoner lowbrow uncomedy - again. Boring when not offensively stupid. 2 stars
5/14/11 mr.mike Pretty good ; they could've trimmed about 10 minutes from the midsection. 4 stars
5/11/11 lisa so much fun to watch it 5 stars
5/07/11 millersxing Noomi Rapace would make a great villainess for a sequel. 3 stars
4/03/11 Blake A. An action-packed Super-comedy. Great movie! 4 stars
3/18/11 Faraz J Crap-a-doodle-do 1 stars
3/13/11 Chaz Milton Looper Typical Hollywood twinkie crapfest, Should be No.1 in the U.S. 1 stars
3/13/11 Luis Entertaining 4 stars
3/11/11 Dow Jones and the Temple of Doom Great action and comedy. Strang film all around. 5 stars
2/20/11 RePTaR Kato did everything, Rogen was just along for the ride. 3 stars
2/09/11 Bulldog A grown man wrote this screenplay and dialogue? Seriously?! Not your bag Seth. 1 stars
2/09/11 Roy Smith Shit. Segan Rogen has zero range, Diaz is a blip, villian is dull, Kato deserved better. 1 stars
2/08/11 David Chiozza Avarage use of 3-D and no chemistry between characters make this film a 2 hour ronf-along. 3 stars
1/24/11 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Mediocre talent carrying a big budget movie. Will be a giant hit. 3 stars
1/24/11 bill norris who knew this dude could do action. 5 stars
1/19/11 PAUL SHORTT LOUD, VIOLENT AND ONLY SPORADICALLY ENTERTAINING 2 stars
1/16/11 Stinker Wow. Movies don't get this bad by accident. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Jan-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-May-2011

UK
  14-Jan-2011 (12A)

Australia
  20-Jan-2011 (M)
  DVD: 03-May-2011


Directed by
  Michel Gondry

Written by
  Evan Goldberg
  Seth Rogen

Cast
  Seth Rogen
  Jay Chou
  Cameron Diaz
  Tom Wilkinson
  Christoph Waltz
  David Harbour



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