The StoryWe're first introduced to a young Britt Reid when he's being admonished by his father (Tom Wilkinson), setting up the fact right away this father/son relationship is a troubled one. Flash forward years later and the older Britt has turned into a slacker who loves to party, loves the ladies, and lives a life of leisure. He and his father don't get along any better now that Britt's in his 20s than they did when Britt was a kid. If anything, their relationship has become even more dysfunctional. So when the senior Reid suddenly dies as the result of a bee sting, Britt's far from broken up about it. Sure, he's sad, but he's also angry at the man who never showed him any respect or much love.
Shortly after his dad's death, Britt and his dad's mechanic, Kato (Jay Chou), form an unlikely friendship. Most new BFFs would be out partying in night clubs and having fun spending some of Britt's inheritance. But these two bond over their mutual desire to fight crime, something they cooked up while drinking and sharing stories about Britt's dad in the back seat of the Black Beauty (a gorgeous souped-up car equipped with every weapon imaginable). It's a crazy idea, but for some reason they decide it is the absolute best use of their time, talents, and Britt's money.
Together, Britt and Kato cook up a scheme to masquerade as villains in order to take down the biggest, baddest crime boss of them all, Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). After having lots of his henchmen taken out by the Green Hornet and having a crimp put in his operations, Chudnofsky comes gunning for the masked crime fighters.
The ActingRogen's Reid is a goofy kid stuck in an adult body surrounded by million dollar toys. When he and Kato concoct the scheme to dress up in green and play crime fighters, it is just that - Britt handles it like they're playing dress up. It's a dumb idea, but as a kid Britt played with superhero toys and as an adult he hasn't grown out of loving that fantasy world. And because Rogen's made a living playing big, friendly goofballs, this version of Britt Reid/Green Hornet fits him to a T. Rogen's never been better than he is in The Green Hornet. It's as if all the work he's done up to this point in films was just laying the groundwork so audiences could accept him as The Green Hornet. He fits into the film, which he co-wrote, as if playing the masked superhero who doesn't have any special powers was always the natural next step in his career.
Just as Rogen's the perfect fit for this version of The Green Hornet, Jay Chou's the perfect fit for this Kato. Chou struggled with English during the film, but his delivery doesn't suffer one iota from his unfamiliarity with the language. Rogen and Chou worked closely on the dialogue, changing things up as needed throughout the production until both were comfortable with their characters' exchanges. And Chou, who doesn't have a martial arts background, sells the action scenes as though he's been doing stunts for years rather than the just the few months he had to prepare.
And casting Christoph Waltz - fresh off his Oscar-winning turn as Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds - as the main villain is another example of perfect casting. Waltz' Chudnofsky has low self-esteem and is easily offended when his rivals don't find his name or outfits threatening enough to make him truly scary. Waltz' plays Chudnofsky, an unstable man who controls a criminal empire, as a charmingly evil crime boss who's just as likely to shoot his own man as he is to take out his enemies.
The Bottom LineThe Green Hornet isn't your normal superhero film. It makes fun of genre conventions, and other than a few random scenes that don't last long, it never takes itself seriously. Britt Reid/Green Hornet is a playboy party-animal who kind of just happens onto the idea of taking down criminals. It's not a moral imperative. He's not doing it for revenge. He's actually doing it because it seems like it could be fun, and it's a way of proving his recently deceased father wasn't right about him never amounting to anything. And because, let's face it, hardly anyone actually knows much about The Green Hornet, Rogen and Goldberg could play very loose with the story. They reinvented the Green Hornet and kicked up Kato's part into more than just an ass-kicking sidekick. It's a smart move, changing up the dynamic into something we don't see in every other comic book/graphic novel/cartoon superhero-inspired movie, and it works well within this new, reinvigorated take on these characters who were created way back in the 1930s.
Director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep) does a fantastic job of putting his unique stamp on the production. The Green Hornet's Gondry's first major action film, and he's proved himself fully capable of handling the genre with this action-packed film. The Green Hornet's fast-paced and the fight scenes, some of which are seen through Gondry's Kato Vision point of view, are both stylishly done and ridiculous. There's not much about this film that's realistic, but who cares? Realism isn't what Gondry, Rogen and Goldberg were going for with this absurd yet entertaining superhero film.
The Green Hornet was directed by Michel Gondry and is rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content.
Theatrical Release: January 14, 2011