"The Green Hornet"

I would say that overall, my final graded opinion on most films falls in line with the thinking of the average movie blogger. Maybe not the hardcore, professional critics but guys like me who enjoy a wide range of cinematic experiences and put their thoughts on paper? We usually find some level of agreement. Every once in a while, though, a movie comes along on which my opinion is far different from the rest of my colleagues. Sometimes I despise a movie that most everyone else at least tolerates (see: “House Bunny”). Sometimes, however, it’s the exact opposite: everyone around me, people I trust and usually agree with, pounce upon a film and rip it to shreds, forcing me to stand alone and argue the merits of said film. So without further review, allow me to stand alone and argue the merits of “The Green Hornet.”

“The Green Hornet” opens on young Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) as he is ridiculed by his overbearing, news mogul father, James (Tom Wilkinson). Fast forward twenty years (during which we can assume the rift between father and son only grew wider) and we find Britt as a full-fledged L.A. party guy with no ambition and nothing to show for his privileged life. Things change, however, when James is found dead, leaving his entire media empire to his slacker son. While vandalizing the statue above his father’s grave, a drunken Britt and his driver/barista Kato (Jay Chou) stop a mugging and in the process garner some attention as low-class crooks. Inspired, Britt and Kato decide to become superheroes who will take on the city’s criminal element. However, instead of coming out as heroes and risking the proverbial weaknesses of being good guys (the call of duty, the respect for all human life, etc.), the duo will pose as villains in order to get closer to the real baddies. Britt uses his media influence to push this new terror down the city’s throat and names him The Green Hornet. This new found calling draws the ire of crime boss Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz), however, and he engages Britt and Kato in a full scale urban war.

It should be noted before I get too far into this sure-to-be-questioned review that I am not a fan of Seth Rogen. A few of his movies (most notably “Knocked Up”) have been enjoyable but on the whole, I generally dislike what he brings to the table. I think he thinks he’s much funnier than he actually is and that annoys me. That said, I thought he was just about the perfect choice for Britt Reid/Green Hornet. He isn’t your typical superhero casting choice but then again the Green Hornet isn’t your typical superhero. This version of the Hornet is as much a bumbling buffoon as he is a stylish butt kicker and Rogen embodies that mentality. It is Kato, and therefore Chou, who provides the real muscle behind the Green Hornet, designing all of his gadgets and putting bad guys down with a righteous array of kung fu moves. Some have complained about Chou’s struggles with the English language but I found this to be much more endearing than annoying. And while Chudnofsky might not be as formidable an opponent as you might want in a villain, Waltz gives a quality and humorous performance, almost a satirical take on his brilliant work as Hans Landa (“Inglourious Basterds”). It’s clear the priorities of “Hornet” are comedy then comic book action but the laughs are plentiful and the mix worked for me. Add in some sweet fight scenes, a well-used soundtrack, and a couple of killer car chases and you’ve got an enjoyable action-comedy.

That’s not to say I don’t understand the negativity that’s being thrown around. I definitely understand some of the complaints my colleagues have levied against this movie. First and foremost, the post production addition of 3D is infuriating. This enhancement is poorly done and utterly pointless. More often than not I wouldn’t have been able to tell I was watching a 3D movie were it not for the cumbersome Buddy Holly glasses attached to my nose. “Clash of the Titans” has nothing on “The Green Hornet” in terms of hastily added 3D. Likewise, Cameron Diaz’s character, Britt’s secretary, is empty and unnecessary. In all honesty, she didn’t need to be in the movie and she adds nothing of significance to the plot. And speaking of the plot, it seems “story development” wasn’t of great importance. It’s not that “Hornet” is all style, no substance like your average Michael Bay movie. Instead, we get a worthwhile story but one that jumps from place to place and moves along clumsily. These negatives, though, weren’t enough to temper my satisfaction with the movie as a whole.

I went into “Hornet” without having read, seen, or heard a single review of the film and perhaps that added to my experience. Regardless, I confess I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. From almost the first moment, the jokes start flying and the vast majority of them hit the mark. While the humor is certainly slapstick-y, juvenile, and perhaps less witty than my normal comedic taste, I found it to be entertaining and easy to watch. Director Michael Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) and screenwriter Rogen establish the tone of the film immediately and seem to ask the audience to get on board or get out. I accepted this invitation to enjoy myself and did just that. “Hornet” is, quite simply, fun and much more so than anything I have come to expect from a January release.

Grade: B-

Death to 3D,