Movie ReviewsRating: 3.5 of 5 yaps

The Green Hornet

In baseball parlance, “The Green Hornet” steps to the plate with two strikes against it.

It’s got a decidedly non-matinee idol star in Seth Rogen and goes more of the spoof route than playing it straight (“Superhero Movie,” anybody?). Add in a post-convert to 3D and a January release after being pushed back, cue underwhelming box office receipts and critical evisceration, right?

Well, hold on just one moment. This “Billy Madison” meets “Kick-Ass” is indeed patently ridiculous on many levels, and is hardly creative or innovative visually, but somehow it manages to work.

“Hornet” has three things really working for it. First, Rogen (who co-wrote the screenplay) allows our hero, Britt Reid, to be a self-centered butt-nugget — the spoiled, resentful son of a father (Tom Wilkinson) too wrapped up in his career to be nurturing (Britt’s mom died when he was a child).

In a genre where being an orphan only serves to make a hero stronger, Britt has two absentee parents and grows up to be a jerk who claims all of his partner’s accomplishments as his own.

Next, it recognizes the central flaw of the original series, which is that the wrong character is recognized as the hero and plays it up. In the 1960s TV show, Bruce Lee played Kato and was relegated to second banana ostensibly because Americans couldn’t stomach an Asian first banana. As a result, Kato does all of the stunts while the Hornet gets his name on the marquee.

Finally, Christoph Waltz (who won the Oscar last year for his role in “Inglourious Basterds”) gives another wonderful performance, this time as the villain with a touch of insecurity about how menacing he is. He has a name no one can pronounce (Chudnofsky), and a wicked-cool gun with two barrels. (It occurs to me that, in actuality, it would be virtually impossible to properly use this gun as depicted in the film, but we’ll just assume he practices with it a lot.)

As an adult, Britt does what privileged rich kids are wont to do — party hearty, drink and hook up with women … until his dad dies, leaving Britt with a newspaper to run (badly), heaps of money and the responsibilities that come with it. It’s then that Britt discovers Kato, one of his father’s servants, whom Britt quickly befriends. After they inexplicably foil an assault, they decide to give crimefighting a go.

But here’s the kicker: Britt doesn’t become the Hornet as his way of righting the wrongs in the world; he does it for kicks. It’s fun, he gets to beat up some crack dealers (along with his borderline super-powered martial-arts expert of a sidekick) and he gets to feel like he’s sticking it to his pops, who angrily broke Britt’s superhero action figure when he was a kid (a sequence that, by the way, drew the ire of my own son, who attended the screening with me).

The film’s main plot involves corruption within the city, but honestly, you won’t have much trouble getting up to speed there. It’s the interplay between Britt and Kato that is most important, even as their rivalry for the affections of Lenore (Cameron Diaz; yes that Cameron Diaz) becomes more and more ridiculous.

Sequences that score include Kato introducing Britt to his “gas gun” (drawing bruised-ego questions from Britt as to why Kato doesn’t get a gun as well) that has a tremendous punchline and a sequence where Kato updates his resume as he’s angry at his employer.

Oh, and any time Waltz is on screen, he replicates the slow boil he did in “Basterds,” albeit in a quicker, funnier fashion, and there are a couple of nice cameos from James Franco and Edward Furlong.

The action is honestly a little muddy, though it’s capped off by a great chase sequence in the film’s climax that sees the Hornet’s car Black Beauty in an elevator inside a building.

By all rights, “Hornet” should have been a disaster, and judging by the reviews this will be a love-it or hate-it affair. I just happen to fall in the former camp.

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24 Responses to “The Green Hornet”

  1. Dodge says:

    Really enjoyed this movie! Great review.

  2. glen guerrero says:

    Green Hornet was funny and a fun movie

  3. Larry Glowner says:

    Hornet was at least funny. Most super hero movies are becoming t o boring so this was nice to have the humor to fall back on

  4. Bernie says:

    Good movie as long as you don’t take it too seriuos. After all, it’s based on a comic book. My grandson and I both liked it.

  5. I saw this movie at the free preview. Definitely a rental not a screen movie.
    A little too much slapstick and not enough plot. The kids that were there seem to enjoy it though.

  6. Jon Sartain says:

    It was a fun ride, Kato made the movie for me.

  7. Braxton says:

    This was a great movie, though probably should have been rated R rather than PG-13!

  8. Tifffany says:

    I though the movie was pretty good, but the language and the use of certain explitives probably made it more of an R rating instead of PG-13. Not as kid friendly as I had hoped for.

  9. donald says:

    this movie rocks! it was full of action and funny as heck!

  10. Eric says:

    I’m not really a Seth Rogen fan and was pretty confident I wouldn’t like this film, but have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Not what I was expecting. Nothing remarkable but not a bad way to kill 2 hours.

  11. Matt A says:

    I liked the movie. I’d classify it as a ‘good January flick.’ Nothing more, nothing less.

  12. Cameron BYam says:

    We thoroughly enjoyed this film. It was just flat out entertaining, and funny. We’re huge Seth Rogan fans and I was having trouble seeing him in this role. But, he delivered and I’d recommend seeing this.

  13. i dug the movie, even though the preview i saw was without 3-D. the reason i dug it was Kato. especially since Rogen’s character is so unlikeable for me! Kato is just such a badass.

  14. Steve B says:

    Nice review. 3D is definitely not necessary, and may make you feel like you wasted money. For 2D, it’s not a bad flick, unless you have no idea Rogan is a funny man who pushed this movie along.

    It didn’t try to be anything more than a silly take on superhero movies, combining some whiz-bang special effects with the kind of buddy buddy crime fighting we’ve enjoyed before in movies typically starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson/Chris Tucker.

  15. I agree with the review and I disagree. While I enjoyed the movie for entertainemtn sack and Seth usually is funny. I also enjoyed the partnership between Britt and Kato. However I did not so much enjoy some of the special effects, they almost seemed too over the top. All in all a good movie to just sit back and enjoy.

  16. Nikki Nickson says:

    I went to see this with my husband and daughter on the sneak preview. I thought it was a pretty good movie and my daughter enjoyed it. It had some funny parts and action. I wouldve like to see more karate in the movie and more tricks with the car but all in all it was pretty good.

  17. Lance says:

    I wasn’t 100% on Seth Rogen as The Green Hornet, but I think he actually did a pretty decent job. He has his annoying moments, but they aren’t any different from any of his other movies. Kato was awesome, and I think I want one of those gas guns for Christmas.

  18. Andy says:

    I guess I’ll have to catch the matinee of this, because I’m not exactly sold on it. I knew it was in trouble when they kept pushing the release date back. All the cross promotion was another red flag to me.

  19. SpeedBrkr says:

    I’ve seen this movie twice (once each in 2D & 3D) and liked it both times; I prefer & recommend the 2D version. I initially went in with low expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. However, I’ve been reading polarizing opinions on this movie; seems like you’ll either like it or hate it. The Green Hornet is one of those movies where can’t take too seriously or else you won’t have any fun at all. I was always a fan of Seth Rogen so I didn’t mind his kind of humor/comedy & acting. The one thing I wish they have more of are martial arts action scenes with Jay Chou. I’m hoping it will do well at the box office to warrant a sequel!

  20. Ryan says:

    I want to like this one because I hate to see super hero movies fail. The Green Hornet has a fan base that makes Aquaman’s fan base look huge by comparison, so there really aren’t many fans to disappoint with this one. The main reason it was probably made in the first place is that the licensing rights were probably dirt cheap. I expected this movie to be horrible, but the trailer and reviews looks promising. I’ll give it a chance.

  21. Joe Shearer says:

    This is a movie that toes the line between utter disaster and good time at the movies, and just makes enough steps in the "good time" direction to make me like it, and I think it’s those Gondry-esque sequences that make the difference for me. Channing, I agree with you, and like you said last night there’s a bit of a Superbad vibe to it, though it’s really a LOT different than that movie.

  22. Channing says:

    Oh, there are definite sequences that reek of Michel Gondry, though I don’t want to spoil them for you. At first I had a bit of trouble accepting the movie, but once I realized that it’s not so much a superhero movie as it is the Rogen-Apatow nexus deciding to put its next movie in superhero clothing, I definitely had fun with it. (Sort of like how ‘Spaced’ the series, ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’ are eerily similar but set in different milieus.)

  23. Sam Watermeier says:

    Huh. I think I’ve seen this movie already…it’s called "Blankman" (a fun underrated comic book send-up about a wannabe superhero). This sounds like "Blankman" with a bigger budget.

    Your positive attitude makes me a little more optimistic, but I’m still not thrilled about seeing this. What does Michel Gondry bring to the table exactly? Like "Pineapple Express" (directed by indie filmmaker, David Gordon Green), it looks like anyone could have directed it.