By Dave Campbell | January 14, 2011
Writers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg (screenplay), George W. Trendle, Fran Striker (characters, origin)
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos, Edward Furlong
With roots from the Universal serials of the 1940’s and the TV series of the 1960’s, The Green Hornet is a buddy/vigilante superhero tale about Britt Reid (Seth Rogen), who is the son of the wealthy and respected newspaper publisher James Reid (Tom Wilkinson). Britt is a twenty-something loser playboy with little ambition to seek an identity outside of his privileged bubble…that is until James suddenly dies and Britt inherits his father’s company.
Through a humorous and bratty rich kid tantrum, Britt meets an employee of his father’s named Kato (Jay Chou). Britt soon discovers that there is much more to Kato after he scratches the surface. As it tuns out, Kato is a mechanics genius as well as a martial arts master. Britt then decides that he and Kato must become crime-fighting heros who pose as villains to keep the baddies in check. Under the identity of the Green Hornet, and with the assistance of his knowledgeable new secretary, Lenore “Casey” Case (Cameron Diaz), Britt works is way up to the king of the criminal underground Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). The middle-aged Chudnofsky is becoming more and more paranoid of the younger, edgier criminals that want his top spot, so he seeks out his biggest threat (the Green Hornet) to make an example out of him.
The Green Hornet character has pretty much always been the generic Batman, and that still kind of continues to this day. The new take on The Green Hornet however, is toned to satisfy as a comedy/action film. Why didn’t I call it an action/comedy? Well, since the script was completely penned by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express), it leans heavy to their strengths in dialogue. Unfortunately, the majority of the writing is so hyper focus on Rogen’s character of Britt Reid, that it left much to the imagination for the interesting characters of Casey and Chudnofsky. The shinning spot in the movie is Jay Chou’s performance as Kato. Chou’s presence as Rogen’s buddy opposite was an extremely successful casting choice, and a launching point in the Taiwanese musician’s American film career.
The Green Hornet is a fun movie even though it could have just as easily been directed by David Gordon Green; who held those duties for Rogen and Goldberg’s Pineapple Express. What I mean by this, is that it doesn’t feel like a Michel Gondry film at all. Hornet oozes Seth Rogen, which is good in several aspects. As much as Rogen fans (I am one) will dig this, I personally had a hard time accepting this as a Gondry movie. Aside from two or three brief moments, Gondry’s touch was absent. My other complaint, is that Christoph Waltz who wowed us in 2009 as SS Colonel Hans Landa “The Jew Hunter” in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is greatly underused as the films main villain. He kicks off the film with a great scene and then seems to only show up a few more times in some underwhelming capacity.
I have fond memories of my Dad and I watching reruns of Van Williams as The Green Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato in the 80’s, but I don’t see a lot of new ones being made out of this one.