It’s always with some trepidation that I fork over thebeefed up ticket price for a 3D movie, especially when it’s getting prettyconsistent bad reviews and is showing an embarrassing score on the Tomatometer.But on the other hand it’s one of my favorite feelings at the movies to bewatching something I thought was going to suck and see that it’s actuallypretty freaking awesome.
Your opinion of Seth Rogen is probably going to determine alot of your opinion about the movie, which seems to suggest to me that mostprofessional critics don’t like Rogen. Personally I think he has a very uniquebrand of comedy that just strikes all the right chords for me.
It should be noted that Seth Rogen made some crucial changesto the central character in order to fit his iconography and likely hisphysicque (also be advised that he dropped 30 pounds for the role), so puristswill find plenty to complain about. But for pure popcorn entertainment, I’mgonna argue that this is one of the best things in theaters right now.
Rogen plays Britt Reid, the party animal son of asuper-serious newspaper magnate who’s trying to straighten out his son enoughto take over the family business when he dies, or at least stop showing upblind drunk in the Los Angeles Sentinel, his own newspaper. When he diessuddenly and mysterious from a killer bee sting, Britt finds himself saddledwith a responsibility that he had previously convinced himself would neverquite reach him.
But true to his childish core, he decides that instead ofmanning up and getting in the captain’s chair, he should team up with Kato (JayChou), his dad’s almost weirdly handsome and freakishly cool mechanic/espressoman, don some masks and roam the streets of Los Angeles fighting crime. Makessense, right?
Wait there’s more. Cameron Diaz plays Lenore Case, a36-year-old journalist who applies for a temp position at the Sentinel butBritt hires her as a full-time writer, because seriously, what newspaper hirestemps in their 30s? It’s a classic scene (“Don’t thank him, he did nothing!”)that exemplifies the hilarious writing that makes the movie so watchabledespite its undeniable childish streak.
James Franco makes a good-natured appearance early in themovie as a bad-natured crime lord who makes the sad mistake of trying tointrude on the jurisdiction of well-established crime lord Chudnofsky(Christopher Waltz). Waltz is so good in this character, reprising the samesmiling venomousness that he mastered in Inglorious Basterds, although despite the impressive scripting of TheGreen Hornet, you can tell it’s nothingclose to the power of what Tarantino created in that movie. Nevertheless, Waltzplays the character so well that I wouldn’t mind seeing a spin-off just forthat character. It’s gonna have to start off with some kind of appointment witha real good optician, though.
Jay Chou’s role of Kato, as you know, was originally playedby Bruce Lee. He had some big shoes to fill and he does it well. He’s atremendous pop star in Asia and is amazingly talented, although this is thefirst time I’ve seen him act. He played a concert at a stadium about afive-minute walk from where I used to live in Luoyang, China, and it was agigantic hit. I didn’t go, but I heard it was fantastic.
It’s rumored that Chou was cast in the movie as a result ofa video chat audition before anyone on the production team knew he was alreadya performer in Asia, but I’m not sure I believe it. That’s some piss-poorresearching, if you ask me, but regardless, he’s already got a billion fansbehind him, so casting him was not a bad decision at all from a business pointof view!
I’m not familiar with the original radio show of the GreenHornet or any other past film or tv adaptations so I’m judging this movieentirely on its own merits, and I really think it’s much much better than theresponse that it’s gotten so far. I expect to see Jay Chou making many moreappearances in American movies, he reminds me of a young Jackie Chan, butwithout all the spastic fight scenes.
Chou’s fight scenes are less comical, butno less over the top, which is why they’re so much fun. He seems to have somekind of Terminator-like super-power that’s never really explained or fleshedout, but no matter. It’s more than enough fun just watching him whip the crapout of everyone in sight. And also keep your eye out for a quick scene with Terminator 2's Eddie Furlong, how seems to be continuing his descent into permanent slobhood.
I would also like to point out that they were nice enough torelease The Green Hornet in January,which is usually the month that the studios reserve for unloading into theatersall the crappy movies that they don’t want to be remembered when awards seasonrolls around.
Notice, for example, that this week everyone is consideringwhich 2010 movies are going to be nominated for Academy Awards and discussinglast night’s Golden Globe winners. And is anyone talking about Daybreakers, Leap Year, Youth in Revolt, TheBook of Eli, The Spy Next Door, The Tooth Fairy, Legion,Extraordinary Measures, Edgeof Darkness, or When in Rome? Nope.
Then again, Daybreakerswasn’t all that bad, and The Tooth Fairy was hilarious. And while The Green Hornet is also not going to be pulling in a lot of awardsthis time next year, it’s also hilarious, and even better than not bad. See it!