THE GREEN HORNET (Dir. Michel Gondry, 2011)
A $90 million dollar superhero movie dropping in the middle of January may seem like a bad sign, but "The Green Hornet" isn't terrible - no, it's just so standard issue, formulaic, and only occasionally funny.
Hmm, maybe it is a bad sign.
Seth Rogen, who also co-wrote and co-executive produced is our unlikely hero here. His character Britt Reid is a partying rich 20 something and fairly close to roles he's played before. He's slimmer here, but he's still the same schlubby loser who lives from buzz to buzz.
When Rogen's disapproving newspaper mogul father (Tom Wilkinson) dies from a bee-sting, our slang talking bozo inherits his entire estate including his mechanic/man-servant Kato (Jay Chou) who makes a mean cappucchino.
Chou outfits a black Chrystler Imperial with machine guns and bullet proof glass and what do you know - they've got a crime fighting duo thing a-happenin'!
Christoph Waltz (INGLORIOUS BASTERDS) is the drug kingpin villain who wants to rule Los Angeles with a crew of pimped out thugs and a double-barrelled handgun.
Through the film's fast pace, albeit one with too many montages, we see Rogen and Chou fight attacking foes, getting their gear together, and smashing up their Imperial so much that they need a line of back-up cars.
There's also Cameron Diaz in a nothing role as Rogen's secretary (at least there's one lady present in this boy's club I suppose), Edward James Olmos as the newspaper's long suffering managing editor, and a slimy David Harbour as the District Attorney who's motives you can see coming from a mile away.
Its a noisy mess of a movie full of destruction displaying very little of the visual style that Gondry has shown in such films as THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. The brief instances of Gondry's flair are lost in the slick shuffle - a segment with split screens inside of split screens in yet another montage hints at what could've been.
As much as I like Rogen and have been highly amused at his work - his jokey jargon didn't carry the movie through as amusingly as expected. He's, of course, not an actor that gets lost in a role - he's just Rogen playing dress-up - and that like just about everything else here gets pretty tiresome.
There's some entertaining chemistry between Rogen and Chou, but their dynamic seems a bit off at times. However a fight scene between them after a falling out is one of the stand-out set pieces of the film.
As the only one with grace in the cluttered comic book chaos, Chou is the film's true star. Though underwritten, again like everything else, Chou makes the most of his portrayal of a refined perfectionist who can level an army of gun toting goons.
THE GREEN HORNET is too big, dumb and ho hum to be the major fun its meant to be, but maybe for a mid-January superhero flick it can pass muster.
But just barely.