The Green Hornetby Nathan Casey / 10.02.2011
We are living in the Golden Age of Geekdom.
Around a decade ago movie studio bosses realised all the comic book nerds have grown up, and even though these thirty-somethings had carefully wrapped and buried their childhood desires, they still secretly yearned to tie a towel around their necks, pop their Jockeys over their jeans, and battle the forces of evil.
But they knew that to make the big bucks they would have to cater to the big spenders – teens and tweens – and unfortunately these same expensively-suited execs, their lips pursed and cramped from sucking the pedicured toes of the money-god, often used the same puckered pouts to spit in the face of a largely unsung art form.
You see, comic books are the kind of butch, not-so-pretty Cinderella of the art world; left to scrub the kitchen floor while the more refined stepsisters – Literature, Fine Art, and Martin Scorsese – get whisked off to the ball.
Now and again the glass slipper (or red action boot) finds its way to her foot (The Dark Knight, Watchmen), but most of the time her face just gets shoved in the mop bucket (Ghost Rider) or the Fairy Godmother takes a sick day (Superman Returns).
Superhero movies are either mind-blowingly spectacular or little more than a disappointing fizzle. The Green Hornet crackles obscurely in the middle somewhere.
Britt Reid (a not-as-tubby Seth Rogen) is a once idealistic slacker flopped down into a life of frat-style parties and supermodels since his father (the inimitably nasty Tom Wilkinson), a wealthy and successful newspaper mogul, berated him as a child – “What’s the point in trying if you always fail?”
When an allergic reaction to a bee sting causes daddy’s demise, Britt is forced into taking control of the family rag.
A mildly amusing turn of events leads to his meeting Kato (Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou), a martial arts master, weapons expert and barista. And while masked and desecrating the old man’s gravestone, the pair stumble upon a crime that needs fighting.
Bizarrely, they become pseudo-criminals. Their fame fuelled by Britt’s insistence of their news coverage, they embark on a quest to clean up the drug-riddled streets of LA.
Cameron Diaz stars as obligatory love interest, Lenore Case, but her character doesn’t do much and is almost as unnecessary as Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl in 1997’s shameful Batman & Robin.
They had a lot to draw on. The Green Hornet started as a radio show from 1936-1952; a Universal movie serial was made in the 40’s based on the radio show; and in 1966 it was made into a television show starring Bruce Lee as Kato, which is nicely, albeit subtly, observed in the movie – sketches in Kato’s notebook, his practising the thumb-nose-twiddle while waiting in the car, and with Lee’s famous ‘one-inch punch’.
The pace is fast and the action satisfactory enough, but there’s not much originality going on here. Britt Reid is a Bruce Wayne slash Tony Stark slash Will Ferrell-Lite creation; Kato does his best as a Jackie Chan spliced with Harold & Kumar amalgam; the fight scenes are reminiscent of Matrix and Romeo Must Die.
The final product is a patchwork buddy-cop movie, screwball comedy and odd couple romance that begs the question, “Can a film with slight homosexual undertones also be considered mildly homophobic?”
The 3D seems ‘just because…’, and tickles the nose hairs with the unpleasant aroma of a freshly-coiled, money-hungry gimmick.
But even though it won’t fellate your mind, it’s a good excuse for slurping a Slush Puppy and munching popcorn on a Saturday morning because it’s your job to write about it, and I’d strongly recommend The Green Hornet if you feel like an incredibly relaxing and highly unchallenging 119 minutes. In the end, not all that bad.
So if superhero nostalgia is your thing, see it in 2D and save yourself the headache.