The superhero film seems almost as common these days as the ‘buddy cop’ film was in the 80s, so it was only a matter of time before someone tried to completely re-invent the genre. Iron Man (and its sequel) came close, giving us a superhero who was cocky, funny, and more than a little irreverent.
In The Green Hornet, Seth Rogen sees your ‘cocky’ and ‘irreverent’ and raises you a juvenile idiot who might make even Adam Sandler cringe. To be fair, it actually works occasionally, delivering some pretty good Apatow-esque comedy. But more often than not, the movie is just a vehicle for Rogen to talk… and talk… and talk. That prospect is tiring enough, but when you take into account that he’s saying things like “any-hoo!” and “scrum-diddly-umptious” over and over again, well… you may find yourself longing for the days when superheroes actually took themselves seriously.
Britt Reid (Rogen) grew up under the iron first of his super-wealthy, media mogul father (Tom Wilkinson). When dad dies as the result of an allergic reaction to a bee sting, Britt grudgingly takes over the family business, but he soon comes to realize that he’s not cut out for running a newspaper. So, with the help of his dad’s former auto mechanic Kato (Jay Chou) he embarks on a life of fighting crime.
Along the way, Rogen continues to talk, the always-sunny Cameron Diaz enters the picture (thought we’re never really sure why), and there’s tons of explosions, frat-boy buffoonery, and a villain (Christoph Waltz) who’s just an effeminate lisp away from Christopher Guest’s Corky in Waiting for Guffman.
It’s a bizarre mix that, while admittedly providing some real entertainment and laugh-out-loud jokes, ends up feeling more like a mismatched series of moments that will leave your head spinning. At one point Britt and Kato are fast friends, kicking butt and cruising the mean streets together. Five minutes later, Britt’s berating Kato for not bringing anything to the partnership, and fifteen minutes after that they’re in a lengthy (veeery lengthy) knock-down, drag-out fight… with each other. Then they make up. Perhaps Rogen (who co-wrote the screenplay) was trying to give the characters a little depth, but it just doesn’t work as well as it should have.
Director Michel Gondry made one of the best films of the past decade (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and while both films are equally scatter-brained and confusing, only one of them is that way on purpose. Here, Gondry occasionally brings flashes of visual trickery, but by and large The Green Hornet is simply a typically loud and big action flick with a rambling script, tailor-made for a star who apparently loves the sound of his own voice.
It’s not terrible, but with a more polished script it could have been so much more.