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The Green Hornet (2011 movie)

A 2011 film Directed by Michel Gondry inspired by the characters from a radio program in the '30s.

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It Stings But it Doesn't Hurt So Bad

  • Jan 15, 2011
If there's anything about comedies like The Green Hornet, it's that you can always bet someone will be crazy enough to take it far too seriously.  And yet there's a sense that can't blame people for actually doing it.  The Green Hornet isn't a bad movie by any means, but that doesn't mean it doesn't sting.  It does, but that sting doesn't hurt as much as you might think.  Much of what the Green Hornet doesn't do too well it's made up for by other things.

The basic premise is pretty much what you saw in the trailer.  Britt Reid (Rogen) has to contend with the fact that his father--who was kind of a jerk--mysteriously died.  Now the newspaper he runs is left to Britt, but he doesn't want it.  And even worse he strangely fired his entire father's staff.  But because he can't get a decent cup of coffee, he brings back at least the guy who does that.  Kato (Jay Chou).  They both have one thing in common... they think that Britt's father was a jerk.  At the funeral a statue was dedicated to Britt's father and Britt and Kato decide to pull a prank ripped directly from an episode of The Simpsons.  They cut the statue off the head.  During this prank, Britt witnesses a couple getting assaulted by muggers and decides to help.  But it turns out he can't really fight worth a damn.  Kato, on the other hand, can kick all sorts of ass.  Britt, getting a high off that decides that they should do again.  Help people.  "How?" Kato wishes to know.  It turns out the exploits of them cutting off the head o the statue made it to the news but not of them saving the two people from the muggers.  Which gives Britt the idea that they'll do it by making people think they're the bad guys. 

It doesn't work out so much because unfortunately neither Britt nor Kato know how to get started.  They're not criminals.  Luckily the new secretary that Britt hires named Lenore (Cameron Diaz) knows a thing or two about criminals and unknowingly helps them.  But how to get the word out that The Green Hornet is actually a threat?  Oh, that's easy, Britt runs a newspaper and decides The Green Hornet will always be front page news.  His exploits turn out to work at first.  He's slowly getting rid of the scum of LA until he takes things too far with his newspaper and realizes that the man who is in charge of all the gangs of LA (an insecure mob boss played by Christoph Waltz) is going to step in and try to kill him.

Let's talk about what works with The Green Hornet.  The most obvious is Jay Chou who does an excellent job as Kato.  He's easily the treat of the whole movie.  The moments when they're actually fighting and taking down bad guys are amazing because of Chou.  There are also some well scripted funny moments such as when Britt gets the gas gun for the first time or when he's running around grabbing bodies off the ground screaming, "Who do you work for?" only to realize the man is dead.  So there are good moments.  Some of the action is also okay but there's a downside to some of that and we'll get to that.

What is annoying is almost all the opposite of this.  If Jay Chou is a treat on screen, Seth Rogen is more of an annoying presence than anything else.  Rogen, who also wrote the script with Evan Goldberg, seemed to have himself in mind for it to begin with.  Only this time he's not allowed to say the "F" word every six seconds.  When The Green Hornet's comedy falls short, boy does it ever.  Rogen more or less plays the same character he has always played which is a pathetic loser.  The only difference is that this time around he's playing a RICH pathetic loser instead of a poor one or a stoner.  The point is that Rogen seems to only be capable of playing characters who are down on their luck.  That's not such a bad thing, but The Green Hornet's comedy is of the variety that is starting to dwindle.  At least for those who hail from the Judd Apatow crew.  If Seth Rogen didn't have gay jokes... what would he rely on?  There are a lot of bromance jokes strewn throughout.  It's not as annoying as something like Pineapple Express, but even much of the dialog comes off as though Britt and Kato are supposed to be secret gay lovers or something.  Does Rogen and fellow screenwriter Evan Goldberg know any jokes that AREN'T about sex and gay people?  Sure they do, but they never seem to know when to quit with them.  Likewise, as you might expect, it also means that quite a number of jokes will overstay their welcome.  The movie isn't too long at least, but the humor is hit or miss.

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the humor is Christoph Waltz.  After playing a very amusing villain in Inglourious Basterds he's suddenly playing this gang leader who is ruthless, but far too concerned with people not thinking he's scary.  His double barrel pistol is kind of cool the first time you see it, but after the initial introduction you'll spend the rest of the movie thinking, "Why does his gun have TWO barrels if he NEVER has to shoot two people at once outside of the beginning?"  He's not interesting in this particular movie.  He has a few funny moments, but it's a shame that someone as talented as Christoph Waltz is put into one of the most uninteresting roles in the movie.

The other thing that's quite odd is that The Green Hornet rarely tries to make it believable.  Here we are, with a man who owns a paper and wants his staff to do NOTHING but cover The Green Hornet and no one stops to think for one minute, "Why do we have to keep covering the Green Hornet?"  His secretary in particular is either the most dense person on the face of the planet or is being deliberately obtuse as she's the primary researcher on The Green Hornet... but never once suspects that her boss might actually be the hornet.

There's also the tired joke of how Kato does all the work but Britt gets all the credit.  It is among the most annoying and overabundant jokes in the film.  We get it, Britt is lazy, stupid and if he had to go about this himself he'd have died backing out the driveway.  There's irony in this, of course, I'm sure more people are going to see the movie for Rogen (who quite literally doesn't do much of anything in it) more so than Chou (who more or less carries the movie).  I've never seen a movie with such a useless protagonist in all my life.  Britt just isn't much of a charming or likable character.  Which is odd because Rogen has actually played surprisingly likable characters.  It's hard to actually really love Britt because he rarely ever does anything throughout the film except hit on Lenore and take credit for the things that Kato does.  The dynamic between Britt and Kato is apt to remind several movie goers of Carter and Lee from Rush Hour... only with Britt being far more useless than Carter and three times as dumb... and a lot less funny.

You'll have some fun, however, the final set of action sequences aren't so bad.  Although they are a little over-the-top.  The point is that you can still have fun, at least.  When the movie finally takes off with its bizarre action you can have enough fun to sit back and enjoy it.  It just takes a moment to get there and you've got to sit through hit or miss jokes.  Perhaps the part where the action takes things a little too far is watching Kato drive only the front half of a car.  If you're extremely bad at suspending your disbelief then you're not going to like The Green Hornet. 

In spite of its predictability, though, at least The Green Hornet has a story that makes sense, even if it's a little predictable.  Actually that's an understatement, it's totally predictable.  There are one or two moments where it's unclear what will happen.  But it's not being predictable that's the problem, it's the effort.  So many moments rely on tried and true cliches.  The bromance portion of it is part of it, but another big thing is how they both pine after the same woman and go their separate ways only to (excuse the expression) kiss and make up in the end.  The story just lacks creativity.  I can usually deal with a predictable story.  Most movies are pretty predictable, but they at least try to tell their stories and bring us to conclusions and confrontations in interesting and exciting ways.  The Green Hornet doesn't opt for that.  Instead it plays everything safe. 

None of this make The Green Hornet a let down or makes the movie that bad.  It just means that much of what it does could've executed better.  It is never the IDEA that's important it's the EXECUTION of that idea.  Much of The Green Hornet's storytelling is just lazy.  And that's more or less the only thing about The Green Hornet that makes it less exciting.  It's lazy. 

I can't tell you how this works as an adaptation.  I never cared for the original show and only ever watched one episode and I can't even remember it.  I'm sure there are inaccuracies a plenty but you have to understand that regardless it was a good adaptation or not... The Green Hornet just wouldn't make for great film making.  It would still only make for light entertainment.

As I said, the parts of the movie that work... work really well.  It's easy to tolerate The Green Hornet.  Sure it gets off on a rocky start, but there are some killer jokes in there.  Watching Kato fight is often amazing (especially the moments where he locks in on the various weapons in the area and acts accordingly) and so it's a tolerable movie.  One you can at least have fun with if you sit back.  It may be a little lazy in its storytelling and Christoph Waltz and Seth Rogen aren't used to their full potential, but you can at least enjoy some of what the movie gives you. 

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January 17, 2011
Awesome job. I haven't been in the mood for a comedic action film lately and this one looks too light-hearted for my tastes, so I'll probably wait for something more dramatic, but it's great to see you reviewing again!
January 15, 2011
I actually liked Waltz a bit more than you did but the timing in the script was uneven. I am with you about Rogen, his comedy just overstayed its welcome and while Chou did really well, (I think he stole the show) even he couldn't pull it off by himself. It's not that I didn't like this film, but there was just something missing and it bothered me that H-wood is just relying on comedy and 3D gimmicks these days. Great review!!
January 15, 2011
It's important to do some research before seeing movies.  The reasons Avatar and Resident Evil looked so good in 3D is simple:  People keep forgetting they were filmed that way (I read your review at some point last night).  If the movie had to be converted to 3D (Clash of the Titans, Tron, The Green Hornet etc.) it usually means the 3D will be bad.  In order for 3D to work the movie is going to have to first be filmed that way.  I bet someone could get a conversion to work out really well (rumor has it that George Lucas has been trying to get good quality 3D for YEARS out of his Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies) but right now converting to 3D is still relatively new (at least this kind of 3D).  So it's no surprise that The Green Hornet looked terrible in 3D... it wasn't filmed that way.
January 15, 2011
Yeah, it explains why this movie was first primed for a Nov, 2010 release and then it was delayed to 2011. I am actually starting to get really tired of 3D, Avatar and RE Afterlife looked really awesome in 3D (I actually wished I saw 2010's Piranha in 3D); I hate the fact that H-wood is just finding ways to exploit a movie viewer instead of coming out with high-quality films.
January 15, 2011
I think movie goers allow themselves to be exploited.  Movies are still, by and large, a business.  They want quality films sure, but what they want more is for that movie to be able to sell.  Scott Pilgrim is largely considered a quality film, but it was produced at a loss.  Hollywood can't produce quality films without the money to do so, unfortunately.  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen may not have been a good movie (it's terrible actually) but the revenue generated from Revenge of the Fallen might go toward helping make a good movie later on down the line.

So I think movie goers are just as much to blame.  If they don't want 3D movies anymore they've got to stop paying the extra X amount of dollars for it otherwise they continue to send the message that this is indeed what they want.  The reason Hollywood never knows when to quit is because movie goers aren't very good at sending that message.  The only way movie goers CAN send that message is through their wallets.  The reason they stopped producing Batman movies after Batman and Robin was because it was a flop and it forced them to take a different kind of gamble.  They realized what they were putting out there wasn't selling anymore and eventually someone at Warner Bros. thought that it was worth taking a gamble on Christopher Nolan and let him reboot it.  Christopher Nolan's movies are considered good quality, but recall that they also know how to SELL said movie.  The bigger the budget the more imperative it is to sell to the public.  This is why they didn't push say... Black Swan at first.  They don't need much for that to be a success.  But consider that as it has received more acclaim it is now strangely important to sell.  In short, now Black Swan is also being exploited for profit... but movie goers are also giving into that exploitation and are being exploited as well.  I guess what I'm saying is that a high quality film doesn't exactly change that it's still about making money.  Black Swan is an incredible film, but it was only worth selling when they realized they had a chance to make a big profit off of it.  Several independent movies will get this treatment. 

So it's a double edged sword.  Sometimes the bad movies are what give studios revenue to produce a good one.  But even that good, quality movie is still, in the end, about making a profit and trying to get people to go and see it.
January 16, 2011
You are right of course. Trashie used to tell me "vote with your $$", it was just hard for me to avoid seeing this in 3D. 1) The theater nearby had the first non-3D show was later in the afternoon so if I wait, I'll pay the same amount. ($6 for regular shows and $ 8.50 for 3D shows before noon) 2) I usually am on a rush in weekends and I tend to just grab the first show available. 3) I don't like driving far to see a movie. I don't mind 3D but I don't want to see every movie in 3D.
January 15, 2011
Wow. I had a feeling that this movie was going to be bad and one of the reasons it got shelved till January. It sounds like theres some good stuff here but I need to believe Seth Rogen as TGH and I don't.
January 15, 2011
Seth Rogen as The Green Hornet is actually very annoying.  He spends way too much time doing nothing while he's got the mask on.
January 15, 2011
yeah, that device definitely overstayed its welcome.
January 15, 2011
Wow, you gotta love a hero who will do nothing heroic. FEH
January 17, 2011
the problem with that slapstick humor is, it never went anywhere and it became very annoying and unfunny, Rogen was a bumbling idiot in the beginning of the film and at the end, he was still an idiot.
More The Green Hornet (2011 film) reviews
review by . January 14, 2011
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A Slapstick Buddy Comedy
“The Green Hornet” is an idea that debuted as a radio program in the 1930‘s, then it went on to movie serials, a comic book in the 40's, a TV series (in the 60's with the legendary Bruce Lee) that got a cult following, after which it went on to inspire another comic book series and other media. The TV series was known throughout Hong Kong as “the Kato Show”; and paved the way for the late great Bruce Lee to break into Hong Kong …
review by . March 27, 2011
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It’s the cool factor done to impress, to the utmost. It suits the taste of those who like to imagine a world that they don’t live in. Hence, it’s the cup of tea for the majority of the American and Chinese public (esp. those in the range of 15-30). It’s entertaining, it’s lively and it’s kind of funny in some ways. You’d think, how could anyone be impressed with such kind of bs? Well, anyone and everyone who has a sense of humor as well as sense of adventure, …
review by . May 30, 2011
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I waited a long time to view this film and I should have waited longer! It was worse than what most of the critics said about it. Seth Rogen is incredibly miscast in this movie that is a ridiculously bad comedy that does nothing to imitate one of the best action based television series ever. The movie had a decent first scene with a young Britt Reid being sent home from school to face the wrath of his father, who pulls the head off his superhero doll. Shift forward 20 years and we have Seth Rogen …
review by . January 16, 2011
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The Green  Hornet debuts in theaters this weekend.      This film covers the origin story of how Britt Reid decides to become the Green Hornet to fight crime. It is interesting what has been remembered from the old Green Hornet TV show to people who were not part of the generation where it debuted. Few people would probably be able to identify, offhand, the actor who played Britt Reid. Whether the same will happen to the revival of this franchise to a new generation has …
review by . May 28, 2011
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*1/2 out of ****     As a superhero movie, directed by Michel Gondry, and written by Seth Rogen; "The Green Hornet" really pisses me off. It has the potential of a really awesome, radical, "cool" action-surrealism flick, but alas, it's trash. Complete and utter trash. I guess that doesn't mean it's unwatchable, but when people call the film "fun", I can't help but wonder how disturbed these people really are.    There's nothing fun about watching a talented …
review by . January 14, 2011
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The Green Hornet has appeared in books, a television series, and perhaps in its most famous form, as a radio series. Adapting a superhero to the big screen is not without its share of challenges. For every Batman and Spiderman that sets box office records there are several that fail miserably, such as Daredevil, Elektra, The Phantom, The Shadow, and the first Hulk movie.      When it was first announced that Seth Rogen would star as the title character many people were first …
review by . January 16, 2011
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Coulda used a little more green
THE GREEN HORNET   Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg   Directed by Michel Gondry   Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson and Christoph Waltz       Britt Reid: That is the balls.       I’ve got to give it up for Seth Rogen.  The man has gone from full on geek to perpetual stoner to slimmed down, unexpected superhero in Michel Gondry’s most indisputable attempt to penetrate the …
review by . January 15, 2011
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Star Rating:         You know something is wrong when the worst character in The Green Hornet is The Green Hornet himself. As portrayed by Seth Rogen, we see a twelve-year-old trapped in a man’s body, a bratty and talkative megalomaniac that does none of the dirty work and truly has no idea what he’s doing. Rogen, who is also the co-writer and one of the executive producers, is not only tragically miscast but has also written his character badly; rather …
review by . May 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I think Seth Rogen is at his best when he keeps his mouth shut.  Which, unfortunately isn’t hardly ever these days, and is almost completely never in “The Green Hornet.”    He was one of my favorite characters (second after the great Busy Philips) in the cult TV show “Freaks and Geeks,”  and he did it mostly with a glower and a few choice words.  His best cinematic performance so far has been in “Observe and Report,”  an unsettling, …
Quick Tip by . May 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Dumb, dull, unfunny and extraordinary, excruciatingly overlong Michael Gondry and Seth Rogen's   "The Green Hornet" is the epitome of what filmmaking at its absolute worst. This idiotic, inane so-called "slap-stick"/ “superhero"/ "buddy comedy" film is one of the very worst films of the year and in my opinion a top contender for the worst picture of 2011 category for the "Razzie.” Rogen who stars and co-wrote …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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The Green Hornet is an upcoming 2011 action-comedy film, based on the character of the same name. The Green Hornet is an American pulp hero and masked vigilante - created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker with input by radio director James Jewell in 1936. Since his radio debut in the 1930s, the Green Hornet has appeared in numerous serialized dramas in a wide variety of media. The character appeared in film serials in the 1940s, a network television program in the 1960s, multiple comic book series from the 1940s on, and a feature film in January 2011.

Directed by Michel Gondry, the film stars Seth Rogen in the title role, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Evan Goldberg. Supporting actors include Jay Chou as Kato, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, David Harbour and Tom Wilkinson.

The film will be released in the United States on January 14, 2011, and the United Kingdom April 8, 2011, which will also include RealD Cinema and IMAX 3D. The film has been dubbed as a re-issue of the TV series rather than the serials or the comic books. After all, it has strong tibutes to Bruce Lee's portrayal and even gives homage to his one-inch punch. Jay Chou knew he couldn't play the role like Bruce, but the references to his movements were all there.

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Director: Michel Gondry
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: January 14, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Runtime: 108 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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