The Green Hornet (Rated PG-13) 3 STARS

Well, The Green Hornet (119 minutes) probably won’t win any awards, but that’s not really what it’s for anyway. Director Michel Gondry typically specializes in mind bending metamovies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind. This one doesn’t quite seem to fit, and it seems to drag on and on at times, but it was a fun super hero movie with some hot leading men.

James Reid (Tom Wilkinson) is the publisher of the Los Angeles Daily Sentinel. In his spare time, he01-26-11-green-hornet.gif emotionally abuses his son Britt (Seth Rogen) and earns the admiration of the entire city. Too bad he is DOOMED!! Once he has thoroughly demoralized the little man in his care, the little man grows up to be a surprisingly thin playboy slacker; a “Bruce Wayne” type, if you will.

Britt goes through a mid-life crisis at age 28, but eventually the power of amazing coffee topped with a leaf shape made of steamed frothy milk beings him back to reality. The progenitor of this heavenly brew is the heavenly Kato (Jay Chou, who I forgive for not being John Cho). It turns out that in addition to cappuccino making and car fixing, Kato is super great at designing sophisticated weapons and preforming martial arts.

Lucky for Britt, he is also pretty terrific at saving people. When Britt makes a bad decision, Kato is there to do some awesome slow motion moves that result in all kinds of crazy camera work. Based on Kato’s overall perfection as a person, and the fact that Britt is trying to overcome his massive daddy issues, the two decide to work together to fight crime. Because becoming police officers/ private investigators/lawyers/people who work with disadvantaged children who just need a big brother to steer them towards good decisions would take way too much work, they go in another direction. They decide to be vigilantes who pose as criminals in order to avoid emotional blackmail or something — that part didn’t make much sense, but whatever.

There’s only one problem. Despite Britt’s fortune and Kato’s prowess, they have no idea how to be super heroes disguised as super villains. Enter Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz). She is, as so often happens, way smarter than the people she works for, but not smart enough to know she is being used. Her role saves the film from being a sexist mess, much like the skilled Jay Chou manages to subvert stereotypes just before the moment where they are promoted.

It is hard to pinpoint the Big Bad, but Benjamin Chudnofsky/Bloodnofsky (Christoph Waltz) is supposed to be the super villain. The problem is, the actor just isn’t channeling the action comedy genius you would expect … he is not menacing enough or funny enough. He doesn’t seem to fit the role, and he pulls the whole film down. Picture this: instead of a scenery chewing Waltz, let Edward James Olmos play the bad guy behind the bad guy! He was already in the film as managing editor Mike Axford, the trusted confidante of Poppa Reid … but he could have been so much more!

Too bad I wasn’t consulted. While the writers and directors were on the phone with me, we could have also talked through the disappointing love subplot that didn’t really go anywhere, and irritated me with its simplistic nature. At least I got some laughs out of the dialogue. But it’s never a good sign when I’m the only one in the theater laughing.

Overall, fans of Seth Rogen will enjoy an afternoon at the movies. Fans of the original Green Hornet, and the superhero genre in general should probably rent this one.

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