I mentioned earlier that used to work for a large, rapidly imploding movie rental chain. One of the things that I always enjoyed most about that job was not just watching pretty much every movie under the sun (usually with a little bit of Am-Hi-Co incense handy), but also talking about them with my regulars. I truly miss that, and so it only makes sense that I should resurrect that particular pastime now that I have a viable forum to do so. And lucky you, you get to come along for the ride. My first victim? The Green Hornet.
I had a lot of hopes for this movie. I tend to enjoy the movie versions of lesser known pop adventures, even when Billy Zane spends 90 minutes aping Alec Baldwin. But the Green Hornet, an old radio serial? I mean, Kevin Smith has been writing this script for ages, right? Well, contrary to what you may have heard from any number of sources, Kevin Smith had pretty much nothing to do with this version. Rather, it was co-written by it’s star, Seth Rogen, and some other guy. Lets check out the trailer. Do be aware that from here on in, spoilers abound.
Looks like pretty standard fare, yea? Unambitious kid shocked to reality by family member’s death meets rad sidekick who shows him aforementioned family member’s secret life as a badass and helps said unambitious kid take up the recently vacated mantle of badass. Too bad this is NOT AT ALL what happens. Seth Rogen’s character, Britt Reid, is beyond simply unambitious, he’s a major tool with a major sense of entitlement, which isn’t unheard of in the superhero genre. The whole crime fighting experience tends to redeem those sorts of characters, which again is pretty standard fare. Not so here, Reid remains a giant dick pretty much the whole time.
For example, take the rad sidekick, named Kato. He doesn’t just show up. He’s made Reid’s coffee for years, and when Reid, in a pouty (and thankfully off screen) fit, fires the whole house staff he goes looking for Kato because now his coffee sucks. In a drunken stupor they go out to vandalize Reid’s father’s statue and end up unintentionally stopping a robbery. And by they, I mean Kato. Reid basically stands there looking fat and almost getting shot. This is also where the film broke the “suspension of disbelief” curve. And when I say broke, I mean goddamn shattered.
The only thing resembling a super power (if you don’t count Reid’s power to be unbelievably unlikeable) is the fact that Kato is supposedly super fast. How fast exactly? Well, in this scene, one of the multiple thugs puts a gun to Reid’s head. We’re expected to believe that Kato notices this, takes stock of the weapons the 6 advancing thugs have, roflstomps said thugs, moves 20 feet, jumps over a car, and knocks out the gunman all before he has a chance to pull the trigger. And the explanation for this? Kato grew up an orphan on the streets of Shang-hai, and it was rough. How rough? Apparently rough enough that he learned how to stop time.
And that’s about where I checked out. Now I have a pretty healthy tolerance for the stupidly unbelievable, like trying to tell me that the last samurai in pre-industrial Japan is a white, 4 foot recovering alcoholic. And while I may be being slightly hyperbolic, I’m honestly not exaggerating all that much. Oh yea, and after he stops time, and they resume the party back at the Reid residence, Kato accidentally knocks Reid out with a gas gun he made and then, apparently because they were talking about it when they were drunk, builds a bunch of awesome cars with flame throwers and wheel spikes and such. Yea, the car that the preview made look like was Reid’s father’s. So they decide to go out and fight crime posed as bad guys. That’s so high brow I may need a ladder.
To be fair, there are a couple of decent one-liners, and a fair few of the cameos are pretty solid. Cameron Diaz, as usual, does a great job, even wading through the crap surrounding her role. James Franco, despite having a miniscule role, is pretty awesome. Even the bad guy, the not at all stupidly named “Bloodnovski” (who spends most of the movie fretting about his ‘cred’) has a few humorous moments. Overall, though, there isn’t really much here. It actually made me like Seth Rogen a little bit less. The action was mediocre and very often felt out of place, the writing was pretty elementary, and while it was well shot there were a lot of extra effects and awkward angles that it made some of the better scenes hard to follow. Think Quentin Tarantino meets Andy Warhol on the worlds laziest acid trip, but without the acid, just the silly. And while it isn’t Electra bad (shudder), I wouldn’t go out of your way to see this. Invite yourself over when a friend rents it (and you have absolutely nothing better to do), or wait for it to hit the 2 dollar rack at the local quick stop. Any more then that and you’ll hate yourself, although not as much as you’ll hate this barker.