Rarely do trailers make the movie look bad only to have the film turn out much better then expected. Such happened to be the case for The Green Hornet, with Seth Rogen and Jay Chou as Kato. When I first heard about the movie’s production, I’m sure I was not the only one who gave a mighty sigh, as there could be no possible way Seth Rogen would be able to fill the boots of a superhero. Being proved wrong does not always translate over into being a negative thing. Directed by Michel Gondry, the lovely fellow who brought us Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, The Green Hornet allows itself to function not only as a superhero flick, but an immensely pleasing comedy.
Part of the joy that comes out of The Green Hornet lies in the movie failing to take itself seriously, fully conscious about both the story-line, actors, and genre. One of the more ambiguous superheroes, the history of the Green Hornet himself is not as well-known by the general populace as someone like Superman or Batman, allowing Michel Gondry and his screenwriters to take creative liberties with the origin story, though of course leave the most important element: Kato. The Asian superstar Jay Chou gives us a damn good Kato. In the original TV series, Bruce Lee played the role, but Chou doesn’t try to be Lee, rather he’s his own character, a slightly humorous ass-kicker who makes excellent coffee.
The idea I would be watching Seth Rogen as anything other than one of his usual roles but instead as a superhero originally caused me to feel uncomfortable. After all, Rogen is not the first person that comes to mind when you’re about to cast an action movie, but if I’ve learned anything from watching The Green Hornet, don’t judge a book by its cover. While Rogen allows his character to maintain the humor and sarcasm the actor has become known for, a braver side emerges. After Britt Reid’s (Rogen) father dies, he teams up with Kato to become superheroes. While much of the movie becomes over the top and almost silly in its presentation of how real, non-powered guys would fair against the criminal underworld, a few thoughtful insights seep thru. How do you go about finding criminals and how do you get to the mob bosses high up? It’s certainly not an easy feat, hence the role of Cameron Diaz, acting as both Reid’s secretary and criminology expert, providing our heroes with all the knowledge about criminals they could possibly desire. Yet, she knows way too much for a relatively minor character and this because strikingly evident, annoying, and almost completely unnecessary.
This brings us to the movie’s central fault: the plot. On one hand we have the Green Hornet and Kato going out on the town kicking crime in the figurative gonads, but then we have the bad guys, each of who have their own agenda and do not seem interconnected with one another. Of course bad guys can hatch whatever sinister plots they so desire, but bands of baddies working together should have a similar goal in mind. Furthermore, there’s the distinction in fighting prowess between Kato and Britt. One is a specialized martial artist, the other, never having thrown a punch in his life, finds himself forced to use a gas gun to stay alive. It’s almost a wonder the Green Hornet doesn’t end up dead his first week as a costumed crime fighter. The 3-D also deserves mention, in that it adds nothing to the movie. Maybe I’m prejudiced against 3-D movies in general, but the added effects did absolutely nothing to heighten the movie for me.
Despite what the grand majority of pesky critics have said and despite the movie’s flaws, and flaws there are, Seth Rogen captures the audiences’ heart with his well-written humor. The jokes are dead-on, hysterically so, and watching the basic interaction between Britt Reid and Kato is immensely satisfying. Look, I’m not saying The Green Hornet deserves any sort of award, but the movie ended up exceptionally better than I had ever hoped it might be and as a sucker for action/superhero movies, I found myself very entertained.