If an overprivileged trust fund frat boy became a superhero and recruited the foreign exchange Asian student that he paid to do his homework the result would be The Green Hornet.
Like many movies in Hollywood, Hornet has been playing a game of “Mother May I?” since the ’90s. High wattage celebs like George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Jake Gyllenhaal were going to don the mask of the time-honored vigilante of 1930s radio show fame. Directors like Kevin Smith and Stephen Chow were going to direct, but then backed out (Chow would have been cool, right?). And even Nicolas Cage was attached to the project as the villain, but, like everyone else, he dropped out.
Was it worth the wait? Was it worth all the red light/green light fun?
Director Michel Gondry takes his trippy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind aesthetic and applies it to a comedic vigilante — not superhero — movie. Funny boy and Apatow staple, Seth Rogen steps into the role of Britt Reid (who later becomes The Green Hornet) who inherits his father’s newspaper after his untimely death. And in his own special way, he avenges his father’s death by causing vigilant havoc on the streets of L.A. with the help of the family “valet” Kato (Tawainese pop sensation Jay Chou), a technological handyman who has a way with sophisticated weaponry (i.e. the awesome Black Beauty) and latte art.
If you add a couple of explosions, a villain (Christoph Waltz), female eye candy for the fanboys (Cameron Diaz), a semi-decent plot and some trademark Rogen humor, then you got yourself a fun time at the movies.
Here are a couple of other things that you should take note of when watching this vigilante extravaganza:
- Gratuitous 3-D Action Sequences: Kato (once a role filled by the legendary Bruce Lee) kicks some major ass in the movie. Some scenes are enhanced with double/triple visioned effects that would probably look really groovy if you were high.
- All About Christoph Waltz: The Academy Award winner is a barrel of fun as he plays the over-the-top, leisure suited bad man, Chudnofsky. It’s like his character in Inglorious Basterds without any of that Nazi stuff involved.
- Edward Furlong: Was I imagining things?! Is it the ’90s?! Our favorite Terminator rebel makes a cameo. I am just glad he is working — even if he is broke and recently got areested. I just have a feeling of a Gen X actor resurgence.
- Spoiler alert: James Franco makes an appearance in the movie, exchanging some awesome fighting words with Waltz. You can’t miss it. It’s near the beginning.
- Get ready for a Chou-vasion: Defying the doormat stereotypes of Asian “help,” Kato stands his ground against Britt and develops an endearing bromance with him. He is anything but a sidekick — and he is very vocal about it. Asian import Jay Chou also holds his own (or as much as he can) throughout the entire movie, showing that he isn’t just a side dish. Can we expect to see more gratuitous use of Chou’s martial arts skills in future American movies? I think so!
- Cameron Diaz: Thankless role, but tolerable. Plus, there is a scene with her in a skimpy pair of boy shorts.
- Decent use of a Coolio song: It’s kind of cliche, but the scene where Britt and Kato are in Black Beauty doing a rousing rendition of “Gangsta’s Paradise” was actually kind of entertaining.
- Seth Rogen: Normally seen as a pot-bellied pothead or formulaic slacker with a heart of gold, Rogen makes this role work. I just can’t imagine anyone else in this movie. On second thought, I can see other guys as the Hornet, but considering Rogen co-wrote the movie — it all gels together. Plus, I just like the guy.
- Original theme song still works: The use of the original Green Hornet TV theme song was a nice touch — but many of you might recognize it from Kill Bill.
- A potential sequel? Critics are going to pan this movie, but it was just pure enjoyment. A sequel would be ideal — just as long as I get to drive Black Beauty again.