My reaction to the news that Seth Rogen was writing and starring in a new adaptation of “The Green Hornet” was probably similar to the thoughts of the rest of the world; “Huh?” The end result however, is massively funny and thoroughly entertaining to say the least.
The day after his father dies and he inherits his father’s media empire, Britt Reid (a stubborn, reckless, imbecile “bad-boy”) learns he fired the one staff member at his father’s mansion that performs a duty necessary to Britt’s lifestyle. He fired the mechanic, who also happens to make Britt’s morning coffee. During a session of bonding once the staff member (Kato) returns, the two decide to go and decapitate the statue of Britt’s father that stands over his grave. Along the way they foil an attempt by a gang to harass a couple and decide that going into the crime fighting business may not be a bad idea. However, unlike most crime fighters, Britt and Kato decide to play the part of bad men, who are trying to take over the local crime syndicate.
While the motives of all the characters in the film can be described as moronic and silly, the script created by Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg and the direction of Michel Gondry create the perfect example of what a funny and entertaining movie experience should be. Just imagine the irreverent humor of “Superbad” supplanted into an action movie. Rogen tried this formula before with “Pineapple Express” which failed to gel together as a decent movie. “The Green Hornet” takes all of those mistakes and throws them away, leaving only the best parts behind.
Stephen Chow, the genius behind such films as “Kung-Fu Hustle” and “CJ7″ was originally attached to direct the film as well as play the role of Kato. Due to scheduling conflicts, Chow had to bow out and it was at that point that my hopes for getting a decent film went down the drain. While a version of “The Green Hornet” directed by and starring Chow is something I would still like to see, the assembled team for this film did a fantastic job of not letting the film fall into disarray. Stepping into the directors chair is Michel Gondry. Gondry is a well-known music video director who made his big mark on Hollywood when he directed, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I was afraid that his unique style and creative flair would be lost. While this is a more straightforward fare, Gondry was able to add some of his trademark effects driven style without getting in the way of the movie’s narrative.
The loss of Stephen Chow also opened up a spot for Taiwanese pop star and actor Jay Chou to step into the role of Kato (the brains and brawn of the operation) in his American film debut. Like other Asian imports, you have to worry about their handle of the “American English” language when putting them so front and center in these types of roles. Chou not only seems to grasp his use of the language well, he displays a sense of swagger that normally seems unnatural in other stars like Jackie Chan or Jet Li. Chou kicks ass as the crime fighting Kato and makes you laugh as mechanic Kato.
Christoph Waltz is the films bad guy in his first big role after winning the best supporting actor Oscar for his role in, “Inglorious Basterds.” While it is a hoot to watch him in the film and he has some good one liners, I fear he is heading down a road of type casting. With other big names to round out the cast, such as Cameron Diaz as Britt’s assistant and Tom Wilkinson as his father, the entire movie rests on the shoulders of Rogen and Chou and they deliver all the great comedy that “The Green Hornet” has to offer. There are also some interesting cameos in the film. James Franco appears in an uncredited role at the beginning of the film as someone in competition to take over the territories ruled by Waltz’s character Chudnofsky. Also, another addition to the string of unnecessary cameos is Edward Furlong, who has been off the map for who knows how long.
“The Green Hornet” is not an amazing film and it does drag at some points. It is not your typical crime fighter movie and some die-hard fans of the Hornet’s previous iterations may not like the film that much. But if you are looking for some truly funny jokes and a good time at the theater, than put your mask on and head to the movies when “The Green Hornet” comes out this January.