What if Batman had been kind of inept, and Robin had all the skills? I hadn’t known much about The Green Hornet before watching Michel Gondry’s new movie adaptation, but I knew that kung-fu legend, Bruce Lee, played the Hornet’s butt-kicking side-kick Kato in the original TV series. When Seth Rogen was cast in the lead role, I thought maybe he was making a bit of an image transformation (kind of like Matt Damon becoming Jason Bourne), but it turns out he’s still goofy, slightly uncool, and still kind of bumbling. After his newspaper mogul father dies, leaving behind his media empire, Britt Reid (Rogen’s character) seems intent on squandering everything until he meets his father’s mechanic Kato who’s not only capable of making an awesome cup of Joe, but also designs weapons, builds super-cars, and really knows how to fight. One night after vandalizing his father’s statue, Britt encounters a group of street punks. After Kato takes them out and saves him, he decides to begin a life of crime-fighting. As the Green Hornet gains a reputation, he decides to play up the shadiness of his activities in order to go undercover with the bad guys and destroy the criminal underworld from within. This, naturally, doesn’t sit well with local kingpin Chudnofsky, played by Inglourious Basterds breakout Christoph Waltz.
It sounds kind of implausible, I know. By night, they pretend to be taking out criminals as a gangland power play, by day Reid uses his fathers newspaper to feed the hype around the Hornet. Bad guys get beaten and believability is seriously stretched (and that’s even before I mention how Cameron Diaz comes onto the scene as Lenore Case, an office temp who’s secretly a failed journalist who becomes the object of both Reid and Kato’s affections). Nevertheless, the action scenes continue to flow, and there are many parts that are actually enjoyable, downright funny, which is part of the problem. I just couldn’t be sure if I was watching a genuine super-hero story (like the many that have been cropping up on screens big and small over the last few years) because a lot of times it seemed like it was more of a spoof.
I am sure you know the end of the story. Spoiled, rich brat makes good on his fathers legacy and his own destiny. Villains are defeated and life moves on for most people. Sadly that’s not enough for a good movie. (3.5 out of 5)