The Green Hornet
I could have done it. I could have bought Seth Rogen as the Green Hornet. They just didn’t let me.
I haven”t cared much for Seth Rogen in the past. He mostly plays lazy disheveled stoners, or losers, or both. I can’t root for those characters to succeed. The only time I remember kind of liking him was in Pineapple Express, where he seemed to be the only rational character trying to corral the lunatics around him. So while I wasn’t thrilled by him being an action star, I was going to be open-minded.
Any hero, action film or not, should be heroic. Seems obvious, right? Yet Seth’s version of Britt Reid* is a pompous jerk for nearly the entire movie, just about until the finale. By then, it’s too late. We’re no longer rooting for him.
The Green Hornet as a film has a lot of good things going for it. Kato, played by Jay Chou, is mostly great. Funny, awesome fighter, great with gadgets…just generally seems like a cool guy to hang out with. The villain, played by Christoph Waltz, is an amusing twist on a crime boss. The action scenes are inventive and mostly shot coherently. The cars and weapons are cool too. And there’s one scene that’s simply amazing–it involves splitting the screen to follow multiple characters at once. But how it’s done, and the scale at which it’s done, is astonishing. Credit the creativity of the director. This movie could have worked.
But it all comes back to the main character. He’s spoiled, ungrateful, arrogant, nearly incompetent, petty, and rarely funny. In a comedy, the latter is particularly damning. A lot of the jokes just didn’t work–at least, not for me. Because so much of the movie’s appeal rests with Seth Rogen, that if you like his kind of humor, there’s a good chance you’ll like this movie a lot. Although personally, even if you find him funny, I don’t see how you can get around his character’s flaws enough to root for him and think he deserves to triumph at the end.
I’m giving the movie a mediocre score. There is good stuff in it, and I wasn’t miserable watching it. But watching a loser act like a hero rang false for me, and it was a crucial blow the rest of the movie couldn’t overcome.
*I have no preconceived notions of the Green Hornet character. Never heard the radio show, never seen the TV show. So my problems were not the result of him being different than other versions I was already familiar with.