The Green Hornet (2011)

(In Theaters, January 2010) I had no preconceived notions of how the Green Hornet character should be portrayed on-screen.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that I have a similar blank state of expectations regarding Seth Rogen: I find his man-child shtick annoying (Gaaah, Pineapple Express, gaaah), and this film pretty much revolves around it.  If the final result can be watched without too much pain, Rogen is irritating throughout, and not just because he plays a spoiled boorish incompetent: The Green Hornet flirts so effectively with the idea that his sidekick is a far more deserving superhero that Rogen becomes an intrusion more than anything else.  (Big Trouble in Little China did this trick far more effectively, albeit with a hero that was far more likable than Rogen’s usual loudmouth stoner-dude.)  As far as action-comedies go, The Green Hornet isn’t anything particularly special: A few laughs, a few action sequences, some interesting visuals.  That’s already better than we usually get for January dumping-ground films, even those adapted from sources that few people care about.  Parts of the film actually do play better than average: Thanks to director Michel Gondry’s visual sense, the action sequences benefit from judicious editing, well-placed slow-motion and a classic sense of pacing that avoids the new shaky-cam spastic-editing norms.  Gondry sneaks in a psychedelic sequence late in the film, and the green color scheme is used judiciously.  When Rogen shuts up and behaves like an action hero, the film works quite a bit better than when it tries to showcase his comedy.  The script is particularly poor in amusing sequences, delivering scene after scene that only work if you assume that every character is mentally retarded.  (Poor Jay Chou, undeservingly playing second fiddle; poor Cameron Diaz, relegated to MILF-prize for two boys.)  In other hands, The Green Hornet might have been good, or at least entertaining without moments of irritation.  Here, though, it just plays to Rogen’s crowd and leaves everyone else waiting until the next good moment.

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