I was only vaguely familiar with the television incarnation of The Green Hornet with Bruce Lee before I went to see the update starring Seth Rogen and Jay Chou and directed by Michael Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). I did not know the back story and it was not something in which I was incredibly interested. To me, this was a new property, and I had no ties to any prior version. That lens will color the remainder of my review. Anyone with strong feelings about the television show or the radio serial will have very different feelings on this one. I was thankful to find a 2D showing and was content not to shell out the extra cash for the cinematic gimmick of the moment.
Seth Rogen plays Britt Reid, son of newspaper publisher James Reid (played by the amazing Tom Wilkinson). From the opening scene, we are shown that being the son of James Reid is not an easy ride. He is a very harsh father that somewhere along the way has all but given up on his son. Britt is the life of the party, freeloading on the back of his father’s fortune. His father makes it very clear that he is disappointed in his son’s choices, especially when Britt’s exploits make the second page of the very paper his father runs.
When James dies due to an allergic reaction to a bee sting, Britt shuts down emotionally and fires all of his father’s employees. He turns the paper over to his father’s number one, Axford, played by Edward James Olmos.
Because of a coffee incident, Britt calls Kato back to find out the secret of his coffee. During a bit of drunk soul-searching, Britt realizes that he’s not happy, there must be more to life and his father was a bit of a dick. He asks Kato to help him slap his father in the face, one last time.
It just so happens that Kato is a bit of an inventor and a well trained martial artist (with a couple nods to Bruce Lee). Kato reveals a car that he had been working on: a 1965 Chrysler Imperial, named the Black Beauty. The two decide to take the Black Beauty for a spin, incognito, for a bit of vandalism.
Another thing Reid has to contend with is District Attorney Scanlon, who hopes he can continue his mutually beneficial relationship with The Daily Sentinel. I don’t want to forget Cameron Diaz, who plays Lenore Case, but even though she helps drive the plot, I found her forgettable.
Christoph Waltz plays Chudnofsky, the reigning crime leader in the city, with a bit of a self-esteem problem. He is very sensitive about his appearance and how he is perceived. Chudnofsky is so concerned with appearing scary that he has built a double barrel handgun, which is cool, but not utilized enough in the remainder of the film.
This movie isn’t that good, but I loved it. It was the perfect escape from reality. It had a good amount of “cool” to it and a bit of humor. Sure, people are idiots for not realizing that The Green Hornet is Reid, but weren’t people idiots for not recognizing Superman?
Chou kicks ass. I’d watch a lot more of him. Waltz is a good villain, but we knew that from Inglourious Basterds. There was even an Eddie Furlong sighting and if you missed the Night of the Demons remake, time has not been too kind to him. He was believable as the guy who runs a couple meth labs.
Many people are Rogened out and won’t want to see the movie; if you fit that category, skip this one. I was entertained, and that’s exactly the type of movie I wanted. The only thing that confused me is the number of people that were crushed to death by falling objects. I guess when Gondry gets on a kick, he rides it out.
Watch for Jay Chou’s martial arts scenes and for the car.
Not all of the jokes worked, but I still enjoyed the film.
How much would I pay to see it again? Out of $10, I would pay $8, but know what you’re in for when you go to see this.
Jay Fralick is the co-host of the Wanna Watch a Movie? Podcast
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Image: Columbia Pictures