Don’t buy into all the negative hype the critics have been giving the new Green Hornet, it’s not the bomb they are painting it. This doesn’t mean I think the film is a great superhero movie, it isn’t. Point of fact it really isn’t a superhero movie at all, which is what I think is souring most critics on the movie. But did anyone really expect a brooding, psychologically conflicted costumed adventurer from the man who made Pineapple Express?
The film is an action buddy cop comedy with masks. And once you understand that, the film is enjoyable as a mindless piece of action fluff, a popcorn movie. Sit down with some popcorn, laugh at some of the jokes, or the preposterous special effects (People who saw the The Green Hornet special on Mythbusters will know what I’m talking about), and afterwards walk out of the theater complaining you should have gotten a small instead of a large popcorn, and you really should have skipped the free refill (Okay that last one may just be me).
The plot is basic but servicible. Rogen plays spoiled rich kid Britt Reid, who does nothing but party, but considering an early scene from his childhood in which his father continually calls him a failure and expects him to raise himself because he has a paper to run, you kind of understand why he is the way he is. Anyway, after his father dies and Reid meets Kato (Jay Chou), who works on his father’s cars and makes coffee (as Roger Ebert put it, think about that for a minute), they look over all the cool things Kato has done with the many cars that now belong to Britt, then they get drunk and bitch about what an A-hole Britt’s dad was.
Deciding to vandalize the statue made in his father’s honor, the two interrupt a mugging and get in a police chase. High from the rush they decide to become superheroes, but think it will be smarter to act like criminals trying to take over as way to avoid the weakness of giving the real bad guys the option of using innocent victims as hostages. Britt uses his paper to promote this new criminal mastermind and his newly hired secretary, sexy cougar Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz) who has an encyclopedic knowledge of crime history to plot out their campaign. After hitting a few drug labs, crime lord Chudnofsky (Christopher Waltz), who is head of all crime in the city and has been obsessing about how nobody finds him scary (After all he has a.45 automatic with two barrels, isn’t that scary? Maybe if he dressed all in red and called himself Bloodofsky….), puts out a million dollar bounty on this new player, leading to an all out gang war on the streets of LA.
While not taking itself seriously, the film isn’t campy like the old Adam West Batman or cult favorite The Adventures of Bucharoo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. It’s more in line with action comedies like John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Rogen himself has more in common with Kurt Russel’s Jack Burton, or Bruce Campbell’s Ashe from the Evil Dead series, than Christian Bale’s Batman or Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man. He is a bragging, obnoxiously overconfident imcompatent who doesn’t realize he is actually a sidekick. The real hero is Chou’s Kato, and he knows it, constantly chaffing at being labelled the sidekick, all the cool inventions and the actual fighting are done by him after all.
The film also hits all of the buddy comedy plot points, the meeting, the bonding, the falling out over hitting on the same girl, failing on their own, then eventually rebonding and ending up with each other, and neither one getting the girl. In between this there are some good action scenes, with some fights doing an interesting update on the Matrix bullet time effect, and all puntuated with bromance bickering.
Hornet fans will be happy to know that the old theme does pop up at the end, not unfortuately the Flight of the Bumble Bee (which is odd since Kato likes classical music and plays Beethoven in the car a few times, you would think he might pop that tune on the built in record player after he came up with their name), but the Billy May and Al Hirt Jazz/ Go-Go fusion theme from the classic TV show, this is used at the end of a scene taken from an episode of the old show. Fans of the show will immediately recognize the scene, and it is a nice Easter egg for them.