The Green Hornet
Director: Michel Gondry
Stars: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou
You can see where schlubby Canuck Seth Rogen comic and his co-writer Evan Goldberg are coming from. Tired of the usual heroic clichés and time-wasting exposition , they set out to mock the whole process. Yet at the same time, they can’t resist buying into the superhero myth.
The standard razzmatazz still feels like work even when it’s being played for supposed laughs. Reid fusses about finding the right name, getting the right car and establishing motivation (the playboy needs to prove his stern, dead papa was wrong about him).
The fact that Rogen’s Green Hornet actually is a party animal — his real identity is the spoiled L.A. newspaper heir Britt Reid, who doesn’t even read — only makes the matter all the more confusing.
Meanwhile, Reid’s trusty assistant Kato, played by Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou, obviously didn’t get the memo about the film being a parody. He plays the conventional superhero sidekick, coming perilously close to a racist Asian stereotype.
Chou does all the heavy lifting, both literally and dramatically, while Rogen cracks wise and takes all the credit?— the combo never really clicks. It’s just one of the film’s many gags that attempt to run but stumble instead.
Putting Michel Gondry in charge of direction was an idea that equally fails to pay dividends. The French fabulist’s action sequences lack flair — including the slow-mo previews of violence to come, a direct steal from Sherlock Holmes.
Gondry’s cluelessness is most apparent in his handling of co-stars Christoph Waltz and Cameron Diaz. Waltz is wasted in the role of an L.A. crimelord who suffers from esteem issues. Diaz is equally under-employed as an ace reporter forced to toil as Reid’s personal secretary.
As Rogen and Gondry now realize all too well, it’s hard to be klutzy and cool at the same time, especially when you’re not sure why you’re doing it in the first place.