The Green Hornet

10 Feb

Title: The Green Hornet
Year:
2011
Director:
Michel Gondry
Writers:
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, based on the radio series by George W. Trendle
Starring:
Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos, Edward Furlong, Analeigh Tipton, James Franco
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content
Runtime:
119 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.5
Rotten Tomatoes:
45%

The Green Hornet was the first big movie of 2011, but after having its release date bumped til January, the cemetery month of films, you had to feel a bit skeptical about how this one was going to turn out. But I was still really excited about getting to see it. I wasn’t a part of those who said they’d never buy Seth Rogen, the perennial chubby stoner for so many, as a superhero. I did buy him as one because I had seen him talk about the project, which we co-wrote with Evan Goldberg, and knew he had quite a lot of passion for it. Not to mention that this was going to be directed by Michel Gondry, and I’m a massive fanboy of his work, so I’d never bet against him.

Now, after having seen it, I really don’t know how exactly to feel towards The Green Hornet. It’s certainly one of the lesser entries in Mr. Gondry’s body of work, but it was still fun to see what the man can do with a mega budget. I mean, this is a film with a reported budget of about $120 million, and giving the reigns of such a project to such a nifty auteur who had never worked with budgets over $20 million (the reported pricetags on both Be Kind Rewind and his masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) was a move by the studio I really dug.

But at the same time, there’s a part of me that thinks that’s exactly what did The Green Hornet in. The fact that the studio was willing to give Michel Gondry, a guy who has created some really weird and thought-provoking stuff in the past, such a large budget most certainly came with a warning telling him to try and limit himself a bit, not necessarily visually but definitely ideologically. Because when you think you’re going in to see a mega-budgeted collaboration between Mr. Gondry and Mr. Rogen you expect some surreal stuff cooked up by two creative geniuses. And yet what we got was just a popcorn flick, that yes, it had glimpses of that genius, but that ultimately the result is much less than what you’d think considering the sum of its parts.

I didn’t dislike The Green Hornet, though, there were quite a lot of very fun moments, and I actually found myself thinking it was ultimately better than most of the critics seem to have thought. The unexpected mix of Mr. Gondry’s quirky sensitivities put into the superhero genre and Mr. Rogen’s physique and reputation as the titular hero was something that, while you could easily tell it wasn’t meant to be, ended up being fun in quite a lot of ways at times. But then again, you can’t help but think that sort of ‘fun’ was not exactly what they were going for.

The fact that such venerable critics as A.O. Scott and Roger Ebert are giving this one failing grades, Mr. Ebert actually gave it one single star and called it “almost unendurable”, makes me think this one is being given too many bad remarks, because ultimately, it was still fun. Not to mention that, to kick things off, those naysayers who were condemning the fact that Mr. Rogen would be playing a superhero won’t be getting the last laugh, because Mr. Rogen looks really fit here. And, in the end, it’s still a Michel Gondry film, so visually it remains impeccable, even when the plot gets all tied up in itself.

Britt Reid is the name of Mr. Rogen’s character, a party animal and heir to a fortune. His father is murdered and he inherits it all, he then hires Cameron Diaz’s character, Lenore, to be his secretary and bonds with Kato, the family’s chauffeur, who is wicked cool with gadgets and will become Britt’s sidekick in their quest for revenge. Considering this was written by Mr. Rogen and Mr. Goldberg, who together have written Superbad and Pineapple Express, you knew they’d go for a much funnier approach to The Green Hornet, making it much more of a buddy-comedy flick, but the action-y stuff is all still there.

So please, stop calling The Green Hornet bad. It really isn’t. Yes, it was delayed and dumped into the horrible first month of the year, and yes, there’s a lot of stuff here that definitely wasn’t tuned to perfection. But it’s still, at least, pretty damn fun. Mr. Rogen is always funny, and he did manage to successfully sell the character to me, Mr. Chou was refreshing as Kato, and Mr. Gondry’s style is always awesome to watch, how he handled the 3D technology, especially that Kato-Vision stuff, I thought was pretty commendable. It’s far from perfect, but it’s also far from “unendurable”.

Grade: B-

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