2.06.2011

Kato And That Dude Who Makes Fart Jokes.

THE GREEN HORNET (2011)
Christoph Waltz does not approve. 
...Is more or less what the movie should've been called. If you're like me and went to this movie because you know nothing about the actually radio show/comic book The Green Hornet but you just wanted to see Christoph Waltz blow shit up, I'll give you the quick and dirty of it. Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) has major daddy issues (hey, at least he got it better than this guy. What is it with Tom Wilkinson and bad parenting?), which is fine until his old man kicks the bucket. So he goes putzing around for a bit, wishing he could do something useful with his life, when he comes across his dad's coffee maker mechanic, Kato. The two form a bond over being losers and decide to take control of their lives and become superheros--thus forming the identity of The Green Hornet and...Kato. Meanwhile, Britt Reid has to come to terms with inheriting his father's newspaper company and the responsibility that comes with it, while offing the bad guys in order to get to the king pin--Chudnofsky. 

Image from alanbobet.blogspot.com
My problem with the movie broils down to this. Chudnofsky, Christoph Waltz's character, carries around a two barreled gun. In theory, a two barreled gun is a good idea. You give it one squeeze of the trigger, and bam. Two opponents down in one blow. Great, right? Well, kinda. Except I'm thinking, you get behind that gun, where's your sight? Do you look down one barrel, aim, and hope the second bullet hits? Or do you aim for somewhere directly in between the targets and pray your bullet makes it there? What I'm trying to say is, simultaneously firing at two targets with one shot is a tricky task, and I'm sure with Seth Rogen's comedic gold on the left and the high action film budget on the right, the directors thought they'd hit both the action junkies and the collegehumor crowd in one blow. Weeell...not quite. 

It was a noble effort. I will say that. I don't think it's a crime to mix the action super hero addicts and the couch potato stoners. Just ask any superhero movie made in the 80s and 90s. Batman And Robin (1997)? Even Ghostbusters (1984) had a similar campy edge, even if they weren't superheros per se. Frankly, I think between Christian Bale's growly angst, Spiderman's "dark side", and now even Blondie Thor furrowing his brow in serious contemplation, it's about time we lifted the superhero genre with a much needed stop taking yourself so seriously injection. Give us something campy, something ridiculous! And, finally, The Green Hornet answered that call.

But the next step is actually pulling the comedic superhero action movie off, and there I think The Green Hornet came up short. This isn't to say I was stonefaced throughout the entire movie. It did pull some laughs--mainly from the banter between Britt Reid and Kato. Their petty, competitive little digs were nicely done, especially during their tiff about the Green Hornet gun. Seth Rogen's payback for shooting himself in the face was nicely done. But otherwise, the comedy just felt forced and out of place. And I'm still scratching my head as to why. I loved Pineapple Express (2008), written and directed by the same Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. And Pineapple Express was a great example of a comedy-action movie that also happened to be a stoner movie, and came out perfectly on all fronts.

Image from schmoozequeentv.blogspot.com
The only way I can come to terms with the non-grooviness of The Green Hornet is the fact that...well. It wasn't a ridiculous stoner movie. It was a high budget action film with some larger than life action scenes and some badass Kato karate. But most of all, it was a superhero film, and with a superhero film, there are certain things you want to feel: fear of the bad guy, the badassitry of the good guys, and the overall sense of justice being served. And I felt none of the above. The Green Hornet was a crybaby loser, Cudnofsky (who I'll get to in a second) wasn't taken seriously by anyone, and I definitely felt no justice being served. Except for the first fight right after he's severed the head of his father's statue. Besides that...they were basically killing a lot of people who didn't need to die? They were killing small time crooks who may have never killed anyone. Not rending them unconscious, not handing them to the cops, killing them. And they did the same with...just about everyone else. Which didn't make them seem like the villains. It made them the villains. Even the ways in which they put down the real villains of the movie seemed a little cruel and unnecessary. Having a hero movie where justice doesn't feel...justified...is like having a Samuel L. Jackson movie in which his only part is to read The Little Engine That Could to retarded kids. It just plain doesn't work.

Welcome to Hollywood, land of bad career choices.
Enough of that. On to the acting. Seth Rogen was Seth Rogen, love him or hate him. I happen to just like the fact that a normal looking big-boned fella can now act in roles such as playboy. I think Hollywood's starting to come a long way with its "hunky men" stereotype--believe it or not, girls like a guy for his personality. Now if only I could say the same about Hollywood's women. On the flip side, we have Cameron Diaz, or Lenore Case. I will give Lenore props in that she only dates the sidekick once and doesn't go all the way with either of the men in the movie. Nor does she seem interested in them. Good for her! But if you're going to make a woman "the brainiac" and want her to be a strong character, it'd be a good thing to, somewhere along writing the script, actually insert a personality. I understand that Seth Rogen is better with the bromance and not so much with the writing strong chicks, but someone give him a hand here.

And then there's Kato, played by Jay Chou. Me, being the non-comic book reading freak I am, immediately went to Cato, who just happened to be inspired by the Green Lantern's sidekick. Who knew? First, I'm going to say that the Kato in the trailers was way more badass than the Kato on screen (seriously, am I crazy, or was the plot in the trailers an entirely different movie?). With that, he was a really awesome character. Even if he got pushed around way more than he deserved. And, honestly, I didn't see any sparks flying with him and Britt Reid. The bromance wasn't really doing it for me. Mostly because Britt Reid was a major dick, and Kato deserved much better. His marshal arts were the bomb, his technology work was amazing, in fact, by the end of it I was kind of hoping he'd get the girl because at least then he'd be getting something out of this very one sided relationship.

Of course, I've saved the best for last. As you may or may not know, I was practically salivating when I learned Christoph Waltz was to be the villain in a superhero movie. Christoph Waltz + guns + over the top action? Sign me up. After all, he's the ultimate villain, how could they go wrong, right? What I did not except was the most inappropriate casting choice of all time. How do you cast Christoph Waltz as the pathetic and desperate for attention Chudnofsky/Bloodnofsky? I'll repeat myself: how do you cast the most charming and subtly frightening villain in recent years as the non-threatening, non-charismatic, washed up hasbeen? The logic just does NOT compute to me. With that said, I will add that Christoph Waltz, being, you know, the genius that he is, does pull his own weight to make the character believable. The man's a professional actors, and as painful as it is to watch him turn off the charm, he does it well. And what Waltz adds to the character is an amazing--and yes, frightening! For the love of god, you have an intimating character, play it up!--lack of compassion and complete and utter apathy towards human life. In fact, he quite enjoys killing, and he'll do it just to lighten his mood, thankyouverymuch.

Image from www.eatsleepgeek.com
To bring this to a close, the movie had a heck of a lot of potential, and I feel like most of it went down the drain. But I will give it this: it was a fun movie, it has laughs, it has decent action, you won't feel like shooting yourself in the foot after seeing it. Just don't expect an Academy Award on this one.

...One last thing. I will say this. For the gear heads out there? I may not know one car from the other, but I am aware that this film was packed with many sexy sports cars. About that big budget? 

12 comments:

  1. I knew nothing about Green Hornet, but I could not believe that in 2011 Kato was a glorified servant. And Lenore being the secretary who gets to do the research and make sure Green Hornet has his headlines irked the feminist in me. I was hoping she and Kato would kick Britt's ass and take over.

    Loved this review, especially the line about Sam L reading to retarded kids.

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  2. Honestly, I think the Cato from The Pink Panther series had more dignity. And Clouseau treated him like shit. But at least they didn't pretend he was a sidekick, when really Kato did nothing but the siht work and got none of the credit. Lenore and Kato kicking Britt out of the picture and taking over the costumes themselves would've made an AWESOME movie.

    Thanks for the comment! Those poor kids wouldn't stand a chance.

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  3. Haven't seen it yet, but in regards to your Waltz question, I have to assume that he took the role simply to avoid being typecast as Hans for the rest of his career.

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  4. Touche, salesman. And I would agree, except if he doesn't want to be typecasted in the American film industry, he should probably start turning down villain roles. I'm definitely all about switching it up, but when you bring in an actor who's proven just how talented he can be in a certain role, why not play off his strengths? I would've been completely happy if he was a non-charismatic washup, but they'd at least banked on his scary potential and made him a little more of a legitimate villain.

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  5. I'm not disagreeing with you, just thought that that might have been his motivation. True, he probably shouldn't have taken the role, though, if that was indeed the case.

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  6. I do think it's a good point, Hollywood does indeed have a problem with typecasting villains! I just want to see Christopher Walken play the nice guy for once, is that so much to ask? But I have seen some of Waltz other stuff, and it would be a real shame if he got typecasted to eternity, and a waste of good potential.

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  7. I'll likely watch this at some point. I can only take Rogen in small doses. As you point out, he's only ever Rogen playing Rogen, which can be tolerable, but is more often annoying to me. Great review!

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  8. Oh don't get me started on this movie. I found it insulting. Rogen should stick with stoner comedy. Jay Chou should stick with being a popstar. Cameron Diaz needs to realize how old she's getting. Waltz needs to be sure to turn down crap roles like this one.

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  9. @ Brent--Thanks! Rogen is really a love him or hate him guy. I don't mind him, my mom despises him. However, this was the one movie she claimed she could actually tolerate him in.

    @ Rachel [f.g.i]--HA! I don't think I could've said it better myself. Poor Cameron Diaz really isn't coping well with that whole almost-40 bit, is she? I did like their little quip about her age in the movie, though, even though she was "36". Between this movie and Knight And Day, I'd say I have to agree with you there.

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  10. I haven't seen this yet. I have to say the trailer didn't thrill me. I think it felt too much like a run-of-the-mill superhero film where the genre has moved on - witness Kick-Ass and the various 'reboots'. Maybe I'll be proven wrong though.

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  11. You're probably right, the genre has definitely taken a much darker, more serious turn as of late. And I really do have to see Kick-Ass. I've been meaning to see it for ages and never quite got around to it.

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