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The Green Hornet

Not Exactly Buzzworth

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

One of the things you can count on in the early months of a new year is the release of a handful of movies that didnít quite make the cut the previous year for any number of reasons. In general, these films tend to be middling.

But the release of The Green Hornet understandably could give one hope. With Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and the generally funny Seth Rogen (Knocked Up), fronting this one, The Green Hornet would seem to be well positioned to buck the trend.

The film opens with a kid being chastised by his successful, but tyrannical father for being sent home from school after getting into a fight with some bullies. Twenty years later, Britt Reid (played by Seth Rogen) is still living at home with his father and relishing his pampered playboy lifestyle.

Fate intervenes and Reidís father dies of a bee sting. Britt is forced to deal with his fatherís passing and the newspaper (The Daily Sentinel) he left behind. Reid and one of his fatherís servants, Kato (Jay Chou), bond over his fatherís general douchebaggery over a few drinks and in act of inebriated defiance cut off the head of a statue of Reidís father. In the process, they run afoul of some thugs and thus the Green Hornet is born.

Rogen has cut his chops playing goofy, dopey, but fundamentally likable guys in his previous efforts. We see some of this from Rogen in The Green Hornet. But, Britt is also an incredibly self-absorbed moron who doesnít seem to appreciate what he has. About halfway through the film, Reid becomes genuinely unlikable, which is a bit of a problem. Reidís a jerk, but weíre still supposed to root for him?

Conversely, Jay Chou does a stellar job as Kato. Kato is a genius. Heís a martial artist who would give Bruce Lee a run for his money. Heís an astonishing inventor. All of these gifts aside, heís genuinely likable. Later in the film when Reid and Kato butt heads, you canít help but want Kato to knock the crap out of Reid.

The somewhat confusing and conflicting portrayals of the two main leads are not aided by a clear lack of decisiveness in narrative tone. Itís well-known that The Green Hornet was a troubled film, so itís unclear if Michel Gondry is solely to blame for the uneven tone, but there is no question that the film is confused and Gondry should take some responsibility for this.

The film has some genuinely hysterical moments that suggest this could have been a great, lighthearted, buddy action flick, kind of like a lighter 48 Hours. However, there are a plethora of scenes in the film that are quite heavy and somber that simply drag the film down. Whatever challenges this film faced in production come across on the big screen in a big way.

What unfolds in The Green Hornet is perhaps one of most brilliantly confused films ever committed to celluloid. Itís an action film, but itís also a buddy comedy. Itís a farce. Itís serious drama. Itís a romance. In short, itís one of the most dissonant films Iíve seen in a long time, but itís not terrible. It had potential and it does actually entertain, albeit not as much as it could have.