Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz and Cameron Diaz. Directed by Michel Gondry. 119 minutes. PG
Just as every superhero needs its sidekick, every superhero movie needs its satire. While you can’t quite call the latest tongue-in-cheek addition to the genre, The Green Hornet, a total take-off – it’s based on it’s own long-running lore – plays out like the Frat Pack’s personalized commentary on it. It fights for truth and justice in the awkward man-boy way.
From the get-go, we know Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is no Bruce Wayne. Sure, he may be the heir of a newspaper and somewhat of a ladies man, but he’s more concerned with trashing hotel rooms than turning in hard-core criminals. Sort-of a terribly spoiled Tony Stark, with much less class. But of course all that changes when his editor-father passes away and leaves him all the great power (and thus, responsibility) of his empire.
Pissed off at Papa Reid for leaving him and what he believes is a falsely noble legacy in the lurch, Britt decides to fire all of his staff, except Kato the Coffee/Bulletproof Car guy (Taiwanese pop star, Jay Chou). They hit it off immediately, bonding over their mutual hatred of Mr. Reid and decide to deface his newly-minted statue. But before they can run off with his metal head, they spot a couple getting robbed. They step in to help and realize that with the help of some leather eye masks and a bitchin’ black, they can be heroes. And not just for one day.
If you were to give this movie it’s own alias, it may as well be “Badass.” This cinematic mutant contains the basic DNA of Kick-Ass and the brain power of Superbad. The script, written by Rogen and his actual best bro, Evan Goldberg, includes the same pop culture-laced one liners and positively pubescent sense of humour as that now-classic teen flick. And the comic-coloured action sequences, courtesy of director Michel Gondry (you heard it right, the dude who gave us Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind!) are fast, furious and mega-fun, just like the ones in that superhero send-up. What gives The Green Hornet such a fresh, uh buzz, are the over-the-top hammy performances.
Chou and Rogen have the best bromantic chemistry sincePeter Klaven and Sydney Fife. And Christoph Waltz plays L.A. crime king pin/crazy cool dresser, Chudnofsky (or is it Bloodnofsky?) like he’s Hans Landa’s disco-loving cousin. There’s also an uncalled for cameo by one of Rogen’s on-screen buds in the opening, which makes for a ridiculous surprise. Cameron Diaz appears as a love interest/secretary/secret mastermind, however it seems fairly phoned in. Her screen time can’t total more than seven minutes.
The first of this year’s money-coloured superhero flicks (The Green Lantern being the second) isn’t going to save too many lives. And neither is the masked crusade it’s named after. But considering the current so-far-so-mediocre cinematic climate, it may just save your day. B+