Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fun Bug

The Green Hornet – a friend of mine couldn’t believe I never watched the show when it was on the tube.

I had to remind this fellow I’m much younger than he (yah, by like, two-three years, he reminded me) to have caught the reruns, and that to me, Britt Reid would be the son of a prominent and respected Los Angeles media mogul, a spoiled schlub who would be happy to coast through life directionless...and a man who very much always will look like Seth Rogen.

And that, I don’t think, is such a bad thing.

By kicking off this emerald year at the movies (Green Lantern is still a-comin’) Rogen has accomplished what many before him (including George freakin’ Clooney, not to mention Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Wahlberg, and filmmakers like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino) haven’t: to bring the 1930s-radio property-turned-1960s-TV program to the big screen. And he’s done a pretty good job that hits all its marks. Honest!

The movie, directed Michel (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) Gondry and written by Rogen with his Superbad partner and real-life BFF Evan Goldberg, pairs the actor with Taiwanese multi-hyphenate Jay Chou as his Kato. The two have an easy chemistry, but if there is anything that works against the duo that would be the fact that Chou dances circles around Rogen with the greatest of ease. He clearly is a big, big star in the East – it just oozes out of him, and by that I mean It.

Not that the movie doesn’t click, because it ultimately does as a piece of well-meaning, amusing, but misguided – tonally, that is – entertainment. There are some elements in the movie that are as cool as they are inconsistent and thus, random. Regardless, if you’re in the market for a mindless afternoon at the theater then look no further.

As the moneyed and spoiled, wild-party-at-The Standard-throwing Britt, Rogen is borderline aggro in that man-child way, but, y’ know, fun because he looks like one of the guys (Rogen trimmed down for the part, but he didn’t go for a full rip, keeping his Every Joe-ness intact).

Like I said earlier, Britt’s just going through the motions, excelling at being an heir and resenting his tough-love dad (Tom Wilkinson) for a sin of the past that made quite an impact on the poor guy and left him feeling unloved.

When his father dies a mysterious one, though, our eventual hero must take responsibility for the family business, which he does in his own manner while nurturing his burning desire to fulfill his perceived potential in the most out-there way he’s always entertained but never acted upon – by righting wrongs as a masked vigilante.

He strikes an unlikely friendship with one of his father’s more industrious and inventive employees, (that’d be Kato, he who soups up the ride known as the Black Beauty on which they get around), and together they set out to fight crime and something meaningful for the first time in their lives. Their method is unorthodox, to say the least. They decide to act like criminals themselves in order to get the attention of the true bad guys, chief among them the ruthless Chudnofsky (Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, dialing back his Inglourious Basterds persona just enough in a part that once belonged to Nicolas Cage), sorta to destroy evil from within, if you will.

With the help of Britt’s new secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz, effective but miscast in a too-small-for-her role), the Green Hornet and Kato begin hitting L.A.’s gritty underworld where it counts, setting the stage for a ridikolous but exciting showdown that you best believe you needn’t splurge on to watch in 3-D, for 2-D will do just fine.

This one’s so popcorn, so enjoy it.

My Rating ***

Photo: Sony Pictures.

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