Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Green Hornet

It looks like Hollywood is tossing out the Superhero stories even earlier than normal this year, you've got the Green Hornet to be followed by Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class & possibly Red Sonja. It's going to be a big year for spandex clad heroes and another big test to see if comic book films still have true staying power. The Hornet has a slightly different feel then most of these costumed super heroes. The Green Hornet originally got its start on radio back in 1936. Then in film serials in the 40's and eventually the Hornet got his own TV show in the 60's. It was campy and silly much like it's more popular counterpart Batman. But it was really Bruce Lee, as Kato, that put the show on the map. It was his first on-screen gig and with the addition of the gorgeous 1966 Imperial Black Beauty it became a cult classic years later. (It only lasted on the air for a year.) Unfortunately the guy playing the Green Hornet was um, less famous. He was played by Van Williams who had the unfortunate task of looking like a bad ass next to Bruce Lee, I really didn't envy him in that position. So as it goes the premise is this newspaper man named Britt Reid takes on the alter ego of the vigilante Green Hornet with his bad ass sidekick Kato to fight crime by posing as criminals. Again, I was never a fan of this show, thought the name was cool and of course Kato was pretty awesome but it was never enough to keep my attention. Fast forward to today and the remake with Seth Rogan and Jay Chou as Kato. At first when I saw this happening I thought it sounded like a bad idea. It felt like they were just going to Animal House a superhero movie and it would still be just as stupid and silly as the 1960's version. Then two things happened, I saw Observe and Report and watched Seth Rogan convincingly beat the shit out of bad guys while still retaining the funny and I learned that Michel Gondry was taking over as director for Green Hornet. Admittedly Gondry can be hit or miss I really hated Be Kind Rewind... But I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But to put Rogan and Gondry together at once sounded insane or insanely brilliant. After seeing it I find it clearly falls more into the latter.
Britt Reid (Seth Rogan) is damaged rich guy who, when he was young, tried to help kids who were being bullied by getting into fights. His father (Tom Wilkinson) in disgust rips the head off of his favorite superhero toy and tells him to man up. Thus this kid becomes a male version of Paris Hilton, spoiled rotten, sheltered and completely clueless about the outside world. When his father is found dead by a bee sting, Britt is left with a multi-million dollar Newspaper and the responsibility to make up for his past laziness. One of the prime movers in getting him off his ass is his father's mechanic Kato (Jay Chou). After seeing Kato's smarts and his ability to kick ass Bruce Lee style he decides they should become vigilantes. And just like the show they try a bit of mis-direction by appearing as criminals to lure the bad guys into a false sense of security. This plan doesn't work out so well but it is damn funny watching them try. He dubs himself the Green Hornet and again just like in the TV show lets Kato do most of the muscle work if not all of it. It's particularly hilarious to watch as he Forest Gumps his way to some success and takes full credit for everything while constantly calling Kato just his sidekick. They get into some trouble when they cross paths with a dangerous psychopath named Chudnofsky (Chrisoph Waltz) with serious anger issues. Waltz puts in a really funny performance too. He definitely plays for more laughs then you would think.
I really got a kick out of this flick honest. If you liked Pineapple Express then there isn't any reason why you wouldn't like this one. Although Seth Rogan's Britt Reid is even more of a douche in the Green Hornet if that's even possible. It's hard to like the guy through most of the movie, but thankfully Jay Chou is really fun to watch especially when he's kicking ass. He actually is the main hero after all. The guy is also pretty funny and the chemistry between Rogan and Chou is pretty great. I especially loved the knock down drag out fight between the two of them it ranks up there with the Tony vs. Rhodey fight in Iron Man 2 for sure. They use every piece of furniture possible. The car chases were pretty fucking awesome and the action pieces were impressive. Not sure why this needed to be in 3D but it didn't take anything away from it. But it just didn't feel like a 3D type of film except for maybe the last action sequence. Also I don't understand why the hell Cameron Diaz was in this movie. Her soul purpose in the film felt completely forced and out of place except for one scene when Britt was questioning her for the job and was not so politely calling her old. It was a pretty damn funny scene, and I'll give her credit for taking the hit, but I couldn't shake the image of a boardroom meeting with Seth Rogan saying shit like,  "OK, picture this Cameron Diaz, hot, a little on the old side, maybe menopausal, the jokes will flow like wine. How awesome would that be?" Then they realize that she's only in the movie for ten minutes so they give her some bullshit talent to be a Mob profiler. Yeah, sorry Cameron, but that's what it felt like.
Anyway, if you get a chance to see the flick you should absolutely see it, whether in 3D or 2D it shouldn't matter it's got the laughs and the action to keep anyone satisfied. I also really dug the Kato perspective fighting technique they used. At first it's a little odd but it was a pretty cool format and it really allowed it to keep it's credentials in the awesome effects departments. I give Gondry all the props there. That car also was pretty kick ass.  So if you don't go for either Rogan or Chou then definitely go for that tricked out car. Very cool stuff.
Grade: 3 Buckets


Speck said...

Really??? You actually liked this?

Rogen's character was unlikeable...Diaz felt like an after-thought, and the story didnt know what it wanted to be, a comedy or an action film. There was very little redeeming about the movie and the jokes were flat. The 3D conversion was pointless/worthless and added nothing.

Waltz was the only worthwhile thing about this film.

Jeff said...

Yeah, I had fun with it--if you read my post I pointed out all of those same things that I didn't like about the film either. But it wasn't enough to hate it outright. I admit if I saw it again, I'm not sure if I would like it as much. I had extremely low expectation going in, so it's certainly possible that there was a bit of mind trickery going on there. It certainly wasn't a great movie but it was fun, I enjoyed the action pieces.