I went into “The Green Hornet” with low expectations. Maybe you will too. Maybe you already saw “True Grit” over Christmas break when you had to escape from all the forced family fun. You watched “Black Swan” during a weekend snow storm when nothing was on TV (and have been having nightmares ever since).
Surely you’re not about to shell out $11 to see “Little Fockers” or another disappointing Vince Vaughn vehicle (I still haven’t forgiven him for “Couple’s Retreat,” which fell somewhere on the enjoyment scale between 10% sales tax and accidentally ripping a toenail off). Maybe this weekend you’ll shrug your shoulders, grab a box of Raisinets, and wander into a theater playing “The Green Hornet” solely because it seems like the least offensive movie you haven’t seen yet.
But guess what? It’s actually pretty good! In fact, it’s such a good movie that I’m surprised that it’s playing in January squeezed into the marquee beside serious films that are trying to win Oscars. It should be showing Fourth of July weekend, like every other blockbuster superhero movie.
In “The Green Hornet,” the usual superhero/sidekick roles are reversed. Spoiled heir-turned-media mogul-turned-Green Hornet Britt Reid, played by Seth Rogen, is the wisecracking, often-bumbling half of the duo. Sidekick Kato, on the other hand, is a genius inventor, car chase expert and nonstop ass-kicking machine. Played by Jay Chou (who is, according to Rogen, “the Justin Timberlake of China”), Kato is sexier than Bruce Wayne and more charming than Tony Stark. The role reversal is a nice touch and makes for a new spin on the superhero movie cliches.
That isn’t to say that Rogen’s Green Hornet isn’t appealing. “The Green Hornet” is a fantastically entertaining blend of action and comedy, which is where Rogen shines. I’m not a Judd Apatow junkie so I usually find Rogen mildly amusing (as my husband aptly put it, “every third joke gets a laugh”) but his Green Hornet is consistently funny! I found myself laughing out loud throughout the movie—hardly any of the jokes missed their marks.
More good news: the appearance of Cameron Diaz does not ruin the movie. Diaz plays Lenore Case, a bright, helpful journalist-wannabe who Britt Reid takes on as his assistant. Her role is minimal, but Diaz does a tidy job of keeping up with Chou and Rogen.
Christoph Waltz, who was last seen winning an Oscar for his portrayal of a seriously sickening Nazi in “Inglourious Basterds,” shows up (again) as a bad guy with an identity crisis. He plays Chudnofsky, a scary crime lord that menaces (and is menaced by) the Green Hornet and Kato.
“The Green Hornet” does lag a little when the inevitable superhero/sidekick argument in the third act happens—if only because Rogen and Chou have such great chemistry that it’s hard to believe that they would ever fight. Beside that minor complaint, I was thrilled with “The Green Hornet.” Hilarious, charming and plenty of scenes with bad guys getting their butts kicked, I can’t wait to see it again.