The Green Hornet (2011)

(Release Date: January 14, 2011)

Sweet idea, this Crime Fighting shit, man!Sweet idea, this Crime Fighting shit, man!Sweet idea, this Crime Fighting shit, man!

I'm rich and bored!
Let's become Vigilantes!
That ought to be good for a laugh, man!

J.C. Maçek III... 

GREEN with the STING of ENVY!
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!!!

Well, I finally got my daughter to watch The Green Hornet with me. Huzzah! I tried convincing her that Black Swan and Green Hornet were the same damned thing, but she wasn't buying it. Something about seeing Seth Rogen in a Ballet Leotard somehow made that idea the exact OPPOSITE of a "Must See"!

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I am STILL POSITIVE that Lily REALLY ate Nina out... Oh, yeah... The Green Hornet!

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At one point I even tried to convince her that this was some amazing French Film and that it was actually pronounced "The Green Hor-NAY", but then she just thought it was erotic flick starring the Jolly Green-Ass Giant, man. So finally I just told her the truth, that The Green Hornet is a vigilante character originally created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker in the 1930s for a long running radio show before branching out into movie serials, comic books, a really cool TV show and all kinds of other groovy stuff over the years and this 2011 film starring Sethy-boy is just the latest incarnation of the spoiled playboy turned vigilante ASS-KICKER. She said something about being able to read, knowing all about it and still not being that interested, but if it would get me to silence myself, she'd watch the damned thing already.

She'll be 21 in two weeks. It's not like I can ground her or anything.

Luckily she wasn't horribly disappointed. In fact, her overwhelming praise amounted to something like "I liked it better than I thought I would." And, to be fair, that final analysis fits this movie like the proverbial locket key, man. It's really not bad. In a lot of ways it's really quite cool and can be a lot of fun. On the flip side, though, it's really not all that great either and has a ton of plot contrivances and convenient bondo-like plot hole fillers that push the story along, but don't always make enough sense to elevate this cork-board of ideas above that aforementioned watermark of "cool" and "fun".

To an extent, however, the film is at least reasonably accurate to its source material! That is, once one considers that said "source" has been evolving in myriad mediums since its inception in 1935 and first airing - as a radio show - in 1936! That's right... literally since Roosevelt was President (well, the second President Roosevelt, anyway).

We kick the hell off with Newspaper Magnate James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) at stately Reid Manor (no, not really), who has had constant trouble balancing his serious, hard-hitting reporting at his legitimate, honest newspaper The Daily Sentinel with the obnoxious, philandering, womanizing, raucous, and carefree lifestyle of his laissez-faire and fairly lazy son Britt. See? He's even got an obnoxiously spoiled rich kid name, man. And, in case you've missed it, he's played by Seth Rogen! Unfortunately, Daddy-dearest is found doornail-dead in short order! This actually totally sucks for the Brittinator, not so much because he misses his Paw so damned much (in fact, Britt is pretty sure he was a bit of a dick), but more because of the fact that the entire responsibility and great power of the Empire Reid is now balancing, Atlas-like, precariously all over Britty-boy's none-too strong shoulders! This, needless to say for the irresponsible and power-indifferent Britt, is quite the Rhinoceros horn to the ASS!

So the now-orphaned, yet still lazy, Britt goes into a funk and wanders through the next few days drinking, carousing and... acting pretty much like he always has. But things turn around when he meets Dearly Departed Daddy's mind-blowing Mechanic Kato (played by Chinese pop star Jay Chou). Kato can invent anything from a super-powered Cappuccino Machine to a bullet-proof car with ease, he's popular with the ladies, has an almost-Matrix-like ability with martial arts and drives any vehicle like it's on rails, not to mention being able to draw everything from a beautiful woman to heroic Bruce Lee (the 1966 Kato) with recognizable photorealism. So... what the hell does he need Britt for?

That's one of many questions that pops up like The Riddler's spandex throughout the first half of the film, especially after Rogen's Britt gets the bright idea that they should team up to become Superheroes! Yes, that's a bit of a leap, too, I'll admit, but no more than just why Kato, this brilliant inventor with everything else going for him was busying himself by turning a mid-sixties Chrysler Imperial into a Batmobile in the first place. But, hell, since he's doing it anyway, might as well make him your Super Hero sidekick, right? Might need him for the muscle and the gadgets and the... brains. The twist, in Britt's brain, is that they won't embark as open superheroes, but as Supervillains, out to take over the underworld and hopefully use the newspaper as a means to prove and publicize their nefarious notions to the world.

And, naturally, so that we'll have a movie at all, that's exactly what happens, with Seth Rogen cracking wise in a decidedly Seth Rogen manner the entire time. The puns, one-liners and near-profane insult fights never end, up to, and after the newly responsible Britt hires a criminology-expert secretary named Lenore Case (the really hot Cameron Diaz)! See, Britt "The Green Hornet" Reid and Kato the Catastrophic have no idea what real superheroes might do any more than they have the first damned clue about what supervillains might be up to on a Saturday night, any more than they have any clue on God's Green Hornet Earth how the hell to run a major metropolitan newspaper, man!

Luckily sweet, sweet Casey is on hand to help out with the first bit of al this (having a criminologist on-hand is tan-fastic when you're trying to do as the criminals might) and commanding managing editor Mike Axford (awesome Edward James Olmos to handle that pesky Newspaper business. Just so long as the Sentinel says plenty of mean-ass things about Britt's alter-ego, of course. Sort of like if Peter Parker was controlling all the negative press that The Daily Bugle was spewing about smilin' Spider-Man and actually egging them all on.

The real question is how the enormous Los Angeles Organized Crime business, run by the notorious (and silly) Benjamin "Bloodnofsky" Chudnofsky (played by, no shit, Christoph Waltz) is going to react to having a new, emerald rooster in the Mafia Hen House!

This story is interesting right from the beginning, but it doesn't take long before it becomes remarkable in its silliness. The challenge of the plot is diminished greatly by the fact that the biggest of the plot points are twined together by very convenient and circumstantial contrivances, usually covered up by a funny fight scene or a somewhat witty use of the word "dick" thrown in here and there to either double us up with laughter or intestinal cramps, I'm not sure which.

The successes of this flick are diminished to a degree by the fact that the more realistic comic book (and comic book-esque) movies that came out just before The Green Hornet's latest incarnation. Somehow the first outing of G.H. and Kato against the forces of Gangland, even with it's medium success, pales in comparison to the much more realistic and gritty bone-busting version seen in 2010's Kick-Ass! Watching Kato perfect that incredible (and 1966-accurate) Chrysler Imperial called "The Black Beauty and finely honing the weapons and costumes that become their trademark tricks of the trade doesn't hold the depth and coolness of similar sequences that we found in Batman Begins even The Incredibles!

To be sure, the script by Evan Goldberg and, yes, Seth Rogen and the direction of Michel Gondry (famous for helming Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) never give the impression that The Green Hornet thinks it is, or is trying to be, any of these films. Nor is The Green Hornet going for that trite and blue trope of the "Superhero Spoof". Although some of its self-referencing and gleeful oddities tippy-toe along the razor's edge of farce, this is much more of an "action comedy" than anything truly in the "satire" category. Still, so many of the ridiculous moments seem to be there solely to bridge the gap between big-budgeted blockbuster of the Vigilante kind and Seth Rogen flick. So often the flaws are plugged by Rogen being "cute" (or his definition thereof) that the film never truly comes to fruition as what it wants to be, could have been and, occasionally, thinks it is. Sadly, it thinks it's so many things that none of them quite solidify into that Green Gel with all the sting we expect and demand.

The lack of pretention, however, is refreshing in this day when watered down "epics" like Watchmen can be considered "visionary". The Green Hornet sets out to be fun and is fun on very many levels, but also leaves a lot to be desired in the brains category. You could do a lot worse, but you could also do better, dudes and chicks, thus the emerald waspinator ekes out a medium Three Stars out of Five. Not bad, not great. Hey, it's great to see Cameron Diaz in her panties again, and she looks great in them still and true, the long wait to see if Seth Rogen can be an Action-type guy without losing every centimeter of what makes Seth Rogen Seth Rogen is over and, yeah, man, it's great to keep The Green Hornet alive in the second decade of the (somewhat) New Millennium. So, yeah, it's cool, it's fun... but a lot of squares need still be hopped on before the whole board glows green.

Hoo-boy, that last line was bad. I'm going to bed, folks, I apologize! See you in the next reel.

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The Green Hornet (2011) reviewed by J.C. Maçek III
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