Me so Hornet
Before The Green Hornet, Seth Rogen was on one of the best rolls in current Hollywood. Other than a couple of cameos in bad movies (Fanboys and You, Me and Dupree), all of his movie role choices were decent ones.
This isn’t to say The Green Hornet is altogether bad—it just isn’t very good.
This is quite the shock considering that Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) directed, with the reliable Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg tackling the screenplay. While the writing duo did much for the stoner genre with Pineapple Express, concocting a hilarious, trippy action comedy, their humorous approach doesn’t quite fit Hornet. The movie just sort of sits there, producing only sporadic laughs to go with its often sloppy action sequences.
A mighty slim-for-him Rogen plays Britt Reid, spoiled brat son of multimillionaire newspaperman James Reid (Tom Wilkinson). James pushes his son hard to make something of himself, perhaps a little too hard, which understandably gives Britt a bit of a complex. When his dad dies of mysterious circumstances, Britt inherits his empire and becomes overwhelmed with the need to do something with his life.
Enter Kato (Jay Chou), his father’s mechanic and maker of fine coffee on the estate. As it turns out, Kato is a genius who can make super-powered cars and espresso machines. The two set out on a mission of vandalism that sprouts into something else, eventually leading Britt to become The Green Hornet. Kato joins him as they fight crime in often boring fashion.
One of the key problems with the film is a generally uninteresting villain in Chudnofsky, played by Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz. While Waltz manages a creepy-funny scene or two—especially in an early one featuring a James Franco cameo—he never really poses an interesting threat to the crime duo. It’s a characterization that feels only half-cooked, and the movie suffers for it.
And while I like Rogen, I must admit there were times in this film where I just wanted him to shut up. It seems that he and Gondry thought in order to play a comic hero, Rogen would have to amp up his shtick in both speed and volume. His work here is odd to the point where he seems woefully out of place, as if he’s lost to whether he’s in a comedy or a straight-up superhero movie. Somebody needed to walk up to Rogen, put their hand on his shoulder, and politely ask him to calm his shit down.
As for Chou, I think I would’ve preferred his dialogue to be in Chinese with subtitles. There were many moments when I didn’t have any idea what he was saying. He has the makings of a good actor, but his command of the English language is not befitting a large supporting role in an American movie. Maybe he’ll be there in a couple of years, but not quite yet.
Cameron Diaz shows up relatively deep into the film as Lenore Case, hired as Britt’s assistant at the newspaper and unknowing strategist for Britt and Kato on their missions. She has the ability to predict what will happen to Green Hornet and Kato, and where crime will heat up next, or something like that. Actually, now that I think about it, her character is ridiculously written.
Some of the action sequences have a little zip and show some of the visual aptitude Gondry has displayed in the past. If you should catch the film in 3-D—yep, this is yet another sub par 3-D offering—there are a couple of moments when the film properly uses the technology. But the visuals are mostly flat, the extra dimension doing little to boost the enjoyment level.
Hey, like anybody, Rogen is going to roll a gutterball every now and then. As gutterballs go, The Green Hornet isn’t a disaster. Considering the amount of work that obviously went into it over the last couple of years, it certainly qualifies as an artistic disappointment. Neither triumphant nor disastrous, The Green Hornet is just a little speed bump in Rogen’s stellar career. Comic book movies prove not to be his bag.