Now on DVD: THE GREEN HORNET (2011).

Posted: May 3, 2011 in Action., Cars, Comedy, Kung-Fu, Movies (G)


The Green Hornet’s release date had been pushed from last year into this January.  January is typically a Bermuda Triangle, a dead zone where nothing can thrive, a month where good movies go to die against many many bad ones.  The release date did not bode well for fans of Michel Gondry, the French director who successfully moved from unique music videos to features with Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, and for fans of Seth Rogen, the comedic actor who broke through with Knocked Up – let alone fans of The Green Hornet, the radio-era crimefighter who had a 1960s TV show (co-starring Bruce Lee!) and countless comic books based off his adventures.  When The Green Hornet finally opened in January, it was considered to be a minor disappointment financially-speaking, and audiences seemed ready to dismiss it.

I had a blast.  I don’t really know what anybody else was complaining about.

I guess the hipsters and tastemakers out there wanted something weirder from Michel Gondry, and the truly stupid people among us seem to think they’re “tired of” Seth Rogen.  (The latter is a rumbling I’ve heard uttered several times now.)  How does anyone get tired of Seth Rogen?  He puts out a couple movies a year, and since half of them are box-office risks like the great, underrated Observe & Report, not many people see them anyway.  Nobody ever says they’re tired of Oprah or Ellen, and those chatterboxes are on TV every single damn day.

Me, I can’t get enough of the kid, and yes, he does indeed make an excellent costumed crimefighter, all slimmed down and chinned up.  Along with Gondry’s tongue-in-cheek tone-setting, Rogen is the right guy for the superhero genre at this moment in time, whether or not anyone else agrees with that assessment.  You can’t take these movies too seriously, even though everybody does.  This movie takes this premise – spoiled-rich Hollywood brat picks up the mask-and-gas-gun, along with his ass-kicking valet Kato, when his crusading journalist father dies – just the right kind of serious, I think.

There’s some interesting darkness in the arrogant asshole nature of Seth Rogen’s character and in Tom Wilkinson’s character as his father, who turns out to be not as much of a class act as his reputation and memorial statue suggest.  But it never gets too dark and mopey and angsty, as too many superhero movies end up being.  Even the romantic subplot with Cameron Diaz’s character is properly sidelined when the chemistry between Rogen and Jay Chou (as the new Kato) proves to be much more lively and entertaining.  Together, Rogen and Chou make a surprisingly credible and capable crime-fighting duo, and they’re even more fun as a comedic duo.

Nobody asked me, though, and so a pretty solid action-comedy (solid both on the action and the comedy sides) ended up under-performing.  I don’t know what it is with mainstream audiences these days:  Either they’re impossible to please, or they’re way too easy.  Sure, Gondry’s take on The Green Hornet is slight, a little sloppy, and hardly as adventurous as the work he’s better known for, but it’s still got plenty of simple pleasures to recommend it.  When a movie throws a solid strike right up the middle, the masses shrug.

To me, The Green Hornet is fun and entertaining with just a sprinkling of idiosyncrasy on top.  It’s not a heart-render or a game-changer, but it’s plenty smarter and funnier than its peers.  When the new Transformers movie clods into theaters in July, you’ll see.  Let me know, because I won’t be there.  Been there, done that.  I’m more likely to watch The Green Hornet again.

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