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The Green Hornet

dir: Michel Gondry
[img_assist|nid=1385|title=Please just go away, no, don't talk, just go|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=449|height=299]
Terrible, utterly terrible. A crime against humanity and basic decency. An abomination unto future generations and an affront to God.

Well., that’s enough about my weekend in thrall to the demon drink. Jeez, was that messy. What… what was I thinking?

No, instead I’m here to warn you, and to warn future generations not to bother with this flick. The Green Hornet is a superhero crimefighter action flick so badly thought out in its premise and so poorly executed (and poorly cast), that I’m amazed it was ever released. Really, this is something that shouldn’t even be illegally downloaded.

Honestly, I can’t act for shit, and I’m nowhere near as funny as Seth Rogen might be, but I would have made a better lead in this flick.

And I’m definitely not Hollywood material. I’m not even Cleveland material.

Hell, I’m not even Mt Isa, Dubbo or even Newcastle material.

It’s very hard for me to entirely encapsulate just how terrible Seth Rogen is here. It’s even harder for me to figure out how it could be so bad, since he’s delivering dialogue that he and screenwriting partner Evan Goldberg wrote. If you write the screenplay, and you deliver awful dialogue in a sphincter-clenching way, who else could you possibly blame? The Jews? Aliens? A global conspiracy of Communists and Freemasons?

The thing is, considering just how terrible it is, part of me wonders whether it was done deliberately. I don’t mean that they set out to fail, I mean that they decided this superhero stuff is played out, overdone, and takes itself too seriously, and so they set out to revel in the high camp ridiculousness of it all by embracing the clichés and overplaying all the cheesiest and by default dumbest elements of the genre.

It’s possible. Michel Gondry can’t really be thought of as a director who’s looking solely for a payday. It’s not like he’s trying to weasel his way into the upper echelons of the Hollywood hierarchy in order to make serious bank directing Fast & the Furious sequels, or Adam Sandler flicks. He’s a strange French leftfield guy who values quirk and visual oddity over narrative consistency or character development.

Sure, I will adore his most successful flick Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind until I go screaming to my grave, but no other flick he’s made has worked for me as well. I didn’t hate Be Kind Rewind, in fact I enjoyed it despite Jack Black’s every attempt to screw it up, and mostly I liked it for its pseudo ‘homespun’ papier mache qualities, and its inspired inventiveness.

But this flick? I can’t tell if Gondry’s objective was to make the least believable or credible superhero flick because he’s thinks they’re all tosh, or not. And maybe he’s right.

They are pretty absurd, I guess. Sure, I like and am thrilled by the good ones, but maybe they are totally crap and I’m a moron for enjoying them. Maybe I need and deserve people mocking the genre and deconstructing it for my benefit, so that I can realise how braindead I am for ever pursuing and watching them.

The Green Hornet isn’t a comic book hero (initially), originating as it did instead on the radio in the 1930s, as a movie serial in the 40s and eventually had a camp silly 1960s incarnation on television that was made by the same people who made that Batman series with Adam West and Burt Ward, and the “Da na na na na na na na Batman” theme song and the “Holy Toledo, Batman!” crap. The Green Hornet series I only know about because I remember seeing the characters of the Green Hornet and his faithful sidekick Kato, played by Bruce Lee (!) guest staring on the Batman series in a particularly silly episode. Like there were episodes that weren’t.

I can honestly say that had Quentin Tarantino never put the trumpety theme to the Green Hornet in Kill Bill, I doubt this ever would have gotten made. That theme song probably initiated a tidal wave of interest that culminated not only in many deaths by garbage disposal suicides, but also the idea that maybe One More hero flick needed to be squeezed into the already overstuffed cinema schedule for 2011.

Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is a complete moron, and the son of a very wealthy and powerful man. That man, played by Tom Wilkinson, who’s the only actor slumming in this flick, is very mean to his deeply unintelligent scion. The vapidity of his son doesn’t justify his appalling treatment of him, I guess, and so it leads to a child hating his father more than anything.

He’s so horrible, though. He’s such a terrible character with virtually no redeeming feature that I saw in the hour and 46 minutes that transpired before my jaded and disbelieving eyes. I don’t mean that he’s a repugnant character like something out of that Korean flick I saw recently, that he is irredeemably evil. And it’s not that, like virtually every character in every actiony-adventure flick, he starts as a zero and ends up a hero.

This fucker starts as a zero and stays there, resolutely. Doesn’t waver, doesn’t alter, doesn’t change, doesn’t improve, doesn’t get less stupid.

My ‘favourite’ scene involves Britt questioning Cameron Diaz’s character of Lenore, and asking her why she’s seeking employment as his personal assistant at his newspaper in her twilight years. At her advanced age.

Are you kidding me? The idea of a callow, immature fuck-up realising their calling and their responsibility to humanity through the gaining of powers, technology or just the drive to fight crime is endemic to this genre. Making him such a fucking moron and keeping him a complete moron until the very end is… nothing short of surreal.

Again, I wonder that that’s what they wanted to do. Seth Rogen surely doesn’t think he was a charming transgressive playboy. He brings nothing but annoyance or annoyingness to this film.

His sidekick Kato (the joke being that though he’s the sidekick, Kato is an engineering genius, a karate expert, a rally driver and a barista par excellence) doesn’t really come off that much better, but at least he gets some minimally enjoyable fight or action scenes nicely warped using Gondry’s music video skills. Played by Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou, who is even more limited as an actor than Seth Rogen, though more comprehensible, his supreme virtue as a person and as an actor is that he’s not Seth Rogen.

The baddie in this is the frighteningly good actor Christoph Waltz, best known for playing the evil Jewhunter Nazi in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, who is frighteningly lacklustre here, deliberately, I guess. His character is a crime boss who’s more concerned with his lack of charisma and lack of fearsomeness than he is about maintaining a criminal empire. Though Rogen’s script and Gondry’s direction tries so very hard to eclipse the natural charisma and acting ability Waltz possesses, a few glimpses slip through.

The Green Hornet decides to fight crime by pretending to be a new master criminal trying to take over LA, which is the strangest ruse I’ve ever heard of. As the editor of his own newspaper, and apparently the only newspaper in Los Angeles, Britt Reid coerces his editor (played by the awesome ‘old man' Edward James Olmos) and all the journalist staff to beat up the story about the Green Hornet’s reign of terror. This brings him into conflict with anyone who has two brain cells more than him to rub together, so naturally conflict ensues instantly.

Rarely is any of the action that enjoyable, I don’t care about cars so the pseudo Batmobile called Black Beauty does nothing for me, and the staging of the friendship / rivalry between Britt and Kato doesn’t work, because Britt is such a total dick, and no element of their partnership makes any sense. They do not and could not possibly like or need each other. Kato could virtually do everything he wants and needs to do without the slightest involvement by Britt, because Kato can think, Kato built all the toys and super weapons, and can fight like a demon. Britt adds nothing to the equation or to the film, for that matter, which shows how pointless it all is.

There is an action climax at the newspaper however, that is of such tongue-in-cheek audacity / stupidity that I have to admit I cracked a smile. How any of that was supposed to be possible pales into insignificance compared to the fact that they thought it up and tried it out, and no-one disagreed with them. Even as such an abject shameless failure, it’s still somewhat interesting for how deliberately it misses the mark, as if to admit how pointless making that mark would be.

But not interesting enough. It’s pretty worthless, and, by way of final verdict or adjudication, if the smartest character in your flick is played by Cameron Diaz, and she puts in the least worst performance in the flick, your flick is fucking doomed.

3 times it’s doomed DOOMED I tells ya out of 10

“You are blowing this guy completely out of proportion.
- “I will blow this guy in any proportion I want!” – Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the wit and wisdom of The Green Hornet.