THE GREEN HORNET directed by Michel Gondry – with Seth Rogen – Movie Review

by Kevin Bowen on January 14, 2011

in Film

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A SIGNPOST FOR THE DIRECTION OF SUPERHERO MOVIES

When small children lay their head on the pillow each night, do they dream of running into a phone booth to change into Seth Rogen?

A more popular figure in raunchy comedies than little boys’ daydreams, Rogen is one of the least likely Hollywood stars to play a superhero. Nevertheless, that’s what we get in The Green Hornet, with Rogen in his ever-recurring role as a directionless man-child. Accompanied by his mechanic/martial arts expert Kato, his archenemy isn’t so much the bad guy as maturity. At least we’re talking about the only superhero that drives a Chrysler.

In fairness, the role of the Green Hornet might be a good fit. He has always been an imitation superhero living in the shadow of more popular zillionaire superheroes like Batman and Iron Man. The film’s plot contains the same father issues with the same idea of crimefighting as philanthropy. Yet you sense the shoddiness of the imitation, and the crimefighting seems more like a prank that got out of hand.

The mostly forgotten 60s camp television show is remembered for one thing – it launched the career of martial arts superstar Bruce Lee as Kato. Thus the new film has plenty of slow-motion martial arts moves. Played here by Jay Chou , the character’s  subservience to his white master doesn’t fit well in the modern day.

The Green Hornet is directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and it works best when it is weird. The problem is that Gondry has delivered a mostly by-the-book action-comedy that superhero fans would expect. It’s also notable thing as the first post-Inglourious Basterds appearance of Christoph Waltz. A veteran bad guy of German movies, it rather kills the mystique of an Oscar to think that it only buys you better opportunities to play better-paid bad guys in American movies.

kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com

The Green Hornet
rated PG-13
now playing nationwide

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