Many Forms, One Green Hornet
The ubiquitous Green Hornet has been through quite a few incarnations over the years, probably the most popular one being the TV series from the 1960’s where Bruce Lee played the Hornet’s sidekick, Kato. In this latest offering the lead role (Britt Reid) goes to Hollywood funny man, Seth Rogen, while that of Kato to Kung Fu-kicking Jay Chou.
The Green Hornet Story
The story’s a simple one where Seth plays his usual role of bumbling and lovable layabout. He disappoints his coruscating father, played by Tom Wilkinson, who continues to pester his son on his failures until his untimely death from what appears to be an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Britt Reid (Seth) now finds himself heir to a media empire but is not interested in the newspaper publishing business.
Still piqued by his deceased father’s disappointment in him, he sets about firing every one of his father’s house staff, before finding out that he’s unwittingly fired the one person who’s delicious coffee brew has, until recently, woken him up from slothful sleep everyday. Britt rehires this mystery employee, going on to meet Kato for the first time. He immediately takes to him and Kato reveals he’s an inventor of sorts.
As fate would have it their mutual dislike for his father leads them to vandalise a statue of him, recently erected to honour him in death. It’s here that they run into a group of criminals who’re harassing a couple. Britt confronts them, but is outnumbered and way over his head. Enter Kato who shows himself to be a skilled martial artist, and he swiftly dispatches the brigands, after which they’re pursued by the police who mistake them for criminals.
After their adventure they decide they make a good team and have not been fully utilizing their talents and set about forming a crime-fighting duo – with Kato’s inventions and martial artistry and Britt’s money – to rid Los Angeles of criminals. There’s one problem though, and it’s that after the earlier chase the police think them to be bad guys. They decide to use this to their advantage, building up their rep in the streets so they can flush out the criminal masterminds behind the city’s crime.
They get some help from Cameron Diaz, acting as a Pepper Potts-esque assistant to Britt, and when he and Kato aren’t arguing over who will get to sleep with her, she unknowingly helps them with advice on how to further increase the Hornet’s media profile. All this ultimately leads to a showdown with the movie’s villain, Benjamin Chudnofsky. A criminal ironically more concerned with his image than the Green Hornet.
There are some funny moments here but they are few and far between. Michael Gondry, director of the superb Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Focus Features, 2004), helms this and barely flexes his quirky imagination and filmmaking vision, leaving The Green Hornet to have less bite than fans of superhero movies would want. In the end the movie struggles, not knowing if it’s parody, in love with the superhero genre, or both. This, regrettably, leaves a film that feels a bit unfinished and not a little unaccomplished.
Home Release Extras
The DVD release of The Green Hornet comes with The Black Beauty: The Rebirth of Cool, a documentary about the Green Hornet’s car – a 1965 Imperial.
It also comes with another documentary titled Writing The Green Hornet where Seth Rogen, actor, writer, and producer, talks about how he researched superhero movies and tried to turn the genre on its head by going against convention: making the sidekick the one with all the cool moves, having a father figure that’s a disappointment and not the hero’s role model, and having a bad guy that’s uncool, insecure and inarticulate.
There’s a gag reel with obligatory blunders and horsing around from cast and crew, and film commentary from Seth Rogen, Neil Moritz (Producer), Michael Gondry (Director), and Evan Goldberg (Executive Producer)
Sources: The Green Hornet (Columbia Pictures, 2011)